Gravenhurst council has passed a motion allowing the collection of cash from a business in lieu of providing parking spaces at 165 Muskoka Road North. Town staff have said this move is one part of a “much bigger initiative” that will be coming to address Gravenhurst’s parking needs.
The Town currently does not have a cash in lieu of parking by-law in place. Melissa Halford, Director of Development Services told council at the July 18 Committee of the Whole meeting that it’s been over 20 years since council has done this and that historically, there have only been two other instances.
The new owners of the property, formerly The Brick, are proposing to redevelop the existing property into Chuck’s Roadhouse. The Town’s zoning by-law requires one parking space be provided for every 9.0 sq. metres of restaurant floor space. With the change of use, renovations and the addition of an outdoor patio, Town staff have calculated that the proposed new restaurant requires 31 parking spaces. They have a credit of 13 spaces and have identified space for 11 more, resulting in a deficiency of seven spaces.
Adam Ager, Manager of Planning Services spoke to council about the time-sensitive need to change the by-law, as “it is in the way of them obtaining a building permit, so the sooner we get a report in front of council, the better.”
The previous by-law, from 1990, allowed the Town “to collect cash in lieu of parking at a rate of $1500 per parking space deficient. However, this figure is “insufficient in today’s market,” said Ager.
He noted that the “Huntsville recently conducted a cash in lieu of parking review exercise comparing their existing rate of $3000 per space to comparable municipalities which resulted in their new rate increasing to $7500 per space in 2023.” It was recommended that Gravenhurst be consistent and adopt the $7500 figure since Huntsville already conducted an in-depth analysis.
The $52,500 collected through the cash in lieu of parking by-law will be placed in a special obligatory reserve fund, to be used for parking or transportation-related costs.
Coun. Sandy Cairns asked if there were any areas currently in the Town’s inventory that “could possibly be turned into parking once enough funds were collected.” Cairns said she is aware that there are parking issues all over the municipality, but that “the downtown really does seem to suffer.”
CAO Scott Lucas said that council did undertake a parking audit seven or eight years ago and that the quantitative analysis concluded that “there was more than enough parking based on usage.” He acknowledged that there may be areas that need more parking but on the whole, there was enough.
Halford also replied that “at a future meeting we will see a whole process for parking for the downtown core for property owners who wish to pursue this option…with increased use, we have the opportunity to collect fees and put them towards other parking needs within the municipality.”
She said that this is “part of a much bigger issue and that a comprehensive policy and approach will be coming” after consultations and addressing other factors, such as if less spaces will be required once rural public transit begins.
“This is something that is definitely in the works and part of a bigger initiative,” said Halford.
The next Committee of the Whole meeting is on Aug. 15 at 3:00p.m. and can be streamed on the Town’s Youtube channel.
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