By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff
A parking lot planned for the Bramm Street Yard, near the corner of King and Victoria, will be larger and more costly than originally anticipated.
On Monday night, city councillors approved a tender that costs approximately $415,000 more than expected, thanks to the increased scope of the project.
Initially the parking lot was expected to cost $500,000, but higher demand for parking in the area led to a change of plans.
An agreement between the city and the owners of the Tannery requires the city to provide 200 parking spaces on the property for the next 10 years. But the planned lot will now include 500 spaces because the area is high-growth, according to Rod Regier, executive director of economic development.
“We just heard earlier today about LRT and how we’re moving rapidly towards getting people to use our transit system,” said Ward 4 Coun. Yvonne Fernandes.
“By building more and more parking lots we’re actually contradicting the support we want to put behind LRT and using our transit system.
“I know we can’t force people out of their cars, but maybe Desire2Learn and the tenants at the Tannery need to figure out something better for their staff in terms of carpooling or subsidies for transit.”
Regier said that companies like Desire2Learn are “aggressive” in promoting alternative transportation, and offer employees free transit passes and a $500 bonus for not using a parking space.
“LRT isn’t up and running until probably the end of 2017. That’s five years away,” said Mayor Carl Zehr.
“In the meantime, we have businesses here who are operating and have brought a new energy to the core of the city and are paying property taxes and helping us out in the overall scheme of things.”
Ultimately, council accepted the tender at the increased price of nearly $900,000.
Fernandes and Ward 10 Coun. Dan Glenn-Graham voted against it, while Ward 6 Coun. Paul Singh declared a conflict of interest and did not vote.
The additional $415,000 will be funded through the Economic Development Investment Fund (EDIF) as well as parking revenues collected in 2012.
The $400,000 taken from the EDIF will be repaid through future parking revenues, which Regier says will take approximately four or five years.
“The Tannery, and the companies that are in the Tannery, are the single most successful employment lands initiative that we’ve had in this community in the past decade,” said Ward 2 Coun. Berry Vrbanovic.
“We’ve transformed the kinds of companies that are coming into the City of Kitchener.
“We’ve created new kinds of jobs that we’ve never seen before in the City of Kitchener, and if this is what is necessary to see those companies continue to grow and prosper and see more of this, this is a no brainer in my point of view.”