New homes putting squeeze on parking in older neighbourhoods

Reducing car-dependency won’t be painless, Siemens warns

Transitioning to a less car-dependent city “is going to be a little painful,” Coun. Ross Siemens said Monday during a discussion over the availability of parking in Abbotsford’s densifying central neighbourhoods.

With the city taking a second look at rules for building in central areas with single-detached homes, a pair of Abbotsford councillors expressed concern that more people in such areas is also going to result in more cars vying for space.

Coun. Moe Gill said he has visited areas where conflicts have sprung up after a lack of parking has left neighbours squabbling over who gets to park where.

Others, meanwhile, have taken it upon themselves to pave over a portion of their front yard, or just park their vehicles on the grass.

“That’s how tight the parking issue is and, as we develop, we’re really going to have to look at this.”

Coun. Les Barkman, meanwhile, suggested that draft guidelines for maximum garage and driveway widths may be too narrow.

“It seems like we’re trying to pack so much in such a little spot,” he said. “A double garage, the way they’re being built, is really not a double garage.”

Mark Neill, the head of the city’s planning department, noted that the draft guidelines for smaller homes on narrower lots would allow for a parking spot in a garage and one – and sometimes two – in a driveway.

“On the smaller lots, it would be a bit of a challenge to provide more than two or three stalls,” he acknowledged.

He also added that such homes would be relatively small – around 1,400 square feet – and have no basements or secondary suites.

The concerns about parking in densifying neighbourhoods are nothing new, but illustrate a challenge as Abbotsford promotes alternate forms of transportation.

The city’s official community plan is built around the idea that more compact neighbourhoods will better allow people to get around by walking, biking and transit.

In recent years, urban planners in North America have pushed back against the idea that land-use rules should reserve space for cars.

Required parking spaces, the idea goes, decreases the supply of land for housing itself while increasing distances between people and the places they want to go – which, in turn, inevitably leads more people to choose to drive over more sustainable forms of transportation.

But breaking that cycle will be difficult, Siemens suggested.

“We designed our communities to be car-dependent,” he said. “That transition is going to be a little painful, building that transit system. Parking is going to be a challenge … neighbours are going to have to work together.

“We can look at those issues as we go forward, but the harsh reality of life is that change is coming to our community, so how do we manage that in a thoughtful way?”

Siemens continued: “In order to be bold and transparent about our future and the future of our community … we are going to have some pinch points and I think it’s healthy that we are having these discussions.”

Staff are currently creating and testing draft guidelines that will govern how new homes are built in areas designated “infill” and zoned for detached houses.

Infill areas include most neighbourhoods south of Maclure Road and between Sumas Way in the east and Fishtrap Creek Park in the west.

The new draft rules, crafted after three public information meetings, would reduce the maximum floor space and height of new homes.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Unusual smell in water’ not a health concern, says City of Abbotsford

Odour is just temporary due to treatment-plant maintenance, city says

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

Man charged with hit-and-run that killed pedestrian in Abbotsford

Man in his 50s died after being struck by vehicle on Highway 11 in October 2019

Fraser Valley Bandits reflect on 2020 turnaround

Abbotsford-based CEBL team goes from worst to almost first at Summer Series

Vedder River gets reprieve from gravel removal this summer

Applications withdrawn by river management committee and process concluded for 2020

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ to find Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

Canucks fan risks life to celebrate at Surrey intersection

‘All fun and games until somebody falls out an open side door of the van’

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

Most Read