Why are our building codes still so vehicle centric? This question came to me as I was turned away from Townsite Brewing on a recent Thursday. I was disappointed not to be able to enter.
I thought I was being denied entry due to safety and health reasons, but I was wrong. I was denied entry because there was, apparently, no place to park my car, which was surprising since it was parked right across the street.
The occupancy for the brewery is set at 45 people because of the number of parking places on Townsite Brewing property. The Brewery is enforcing the limit since City of Powell River has indicated it is a bylaw infraction to exceed this number.
This makes no sense anymore; the linking of parking spaces for vehicles to businesses needs to be undone.
Standing in front of the brewery that afternoon, I could see many open parking places within a block. This part of Townsite is a retail/commercial area and on-street parking is widely available.
There are enough parking places within easy walking distance to handle, for example, hundreds of people at Dwight Hall. The mindless application of the code in this instance, and others, reduces the number of customers who drive, but also those who walk or bicycle.
We should stop requiring Powell River to be vehicle centric. Requiring on-site parking makes a city less desirable for alternate transportation. It increases land use, reduces density and makes businesses farther apart. This is the wrong direction for our community.
A staff report to the City of Vancouver in April 2018 recommended the elimination all minimum vehicle parking requirements in the downtown area. The report recognizes that “management of off-street parking for vehicles and bicycles is one of the most powerful levers to achieve long-term transportation goals.”
Simply put, Powell River’s building codes need to be changed to recognize that our community will not always be a vehicle centric one. The automobile started us on a long journey to our current urban sprawl and it will be a long journey back to a less auto-centric urban setting. But it is a journey we should start now.
Terry Noreault is a Powell River resident.
See response from City of Powell River here.