Parking planning underway in Fernie

With more visitors than ever flocking to Fernie to enjoy the freshly fallen snow, the City of Fernie is trying to find ways to deal with the parking problems caused by all the extra cars.

Cars parked on Second Avenue in Fernie.

With more visitors than ever flocking to Fernie to enjoy the freshly fallen snow, the City of Fernie is trying to find ways to deal with the parking problems caused by all the extra cars.

The City is busy working with Halcrow Consulting on a new parking management plan for the city’s downtown streets.

“Parking is a hot topic right now,” said Desmond Bliek, planner with Halcrow. “We’ve worked with several B.C. communities trying to find the right solutions to their parking problems.”

Bliek said that their main goal with the parking management plan is to ensure there is enough parking going forward.

“The City is concerned with making sure that business development downtown isn’t hindered by parking demands,” he said.

Bliek also said, “the City wants to avoid requiring too much parking.”

The City and Halcrow started the project over the August 2010 long weekend last year.

“We wanted to see during the busiest time of the year how many cars were parked in on and off street parking,” said Bliek.

Surveys were conducted in August and again over the holidays to see where people were parking in town, how many people were driving into Fernie’s downtown area, and how long they were staying for.

“One of the things we’ve looked at carefully, and we’ve noticed this in other communities too, is people will stay in the best parking spaces all day. It’s not that there aren’t enough parking spaces, it’s how they are being used,” he said.

Halcrow is planning another survey over the Alberta Family Day long weekend, which is typically a busy time of the year.

“There are a variety of strategies to deal with parking,” he said. “It depends on the resources and on the demand for the parking spaces. Some strategies are working with businesses to make sure their employees aren’t parking in the best spots and suggesting that they park on the periphery instead.”

Bliek said that time limits could also help with the turnover of parking spaces.

“There are also parking meters, which are similar to time limits. But enforcement is not always easy or cost effective,” he said.

Bliek said they are planning to present a management plan to the City by the end of March.

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