Parking frustrates merchants

The City of Vernon is being accused of sending downtown merchants and customers in circles.

The City of Vernon is being accused of sending  downtown merchants and customers in circles.

The Downtown Vernon Association told council Friday that insufficient parking continues to be a common complaint among residents and some businesses may relocate because of the issue.

“It’s an ongoing issue and the city has left it at the bottom of the totem pole with its priorities of cycling and transit,” said Ruth Hoyte, DVA president.

“If the city wants growth in the commercial sector, it needs to address parking.”

The DVA believes some parking spaces have been lost as a result of beautification initiatives along 30th and 31st avenue, as well as the development of bicycle paths and the new library.

“We’ve been told by the city there will be no net loss of parking but when you look at the loss of parking because of projects, where will the spaces be made up?” said Hoyte.

The DVA has established a parking commission and will do an inventory of what is available.

“In order to look at parking, we need the financials,” said Hoyte of the city’s costs and revenue related to parking meters and fines.

Such funds could determine if there is sufficient money to initiate infrastructure like a new parkade.

City officials defend their handling of parking downtown.

“We have said there will be zero loss of parking so if we take away a space, we will get it somewhere else,” said Coun. Jack Gilroy.

As an example, Gilroy says the former Vernon Flower Shop building on 31st Avenue will be demolished for parking once the 2012 Winter Games stop using it for an office next year.

Gilroy isn’t convinced there is a shortage of parking.

“I drive downtown every day and I never have a problem finding parking. I may have to walk a few blocks to get somewhere,” he said.

“You can’t expect parking in front of every business.”