Thursday, May 2, 2013

McBurney Lane and Parking

McBurney Lane under reconstruction.

I was walking along Douglas Crescent and noticed that work has now begun on the renovation of McBurney Lane. The old configuration of the lane had a north pedestrian plaza, and a south parking lot. The future vision for the lane was to see it fully pedestrianized, serving as an extension of Douglas Park.

Unfortunately, some business owners and councillors did not share the vision for a walkable Downtown Langley, and instead fought to keep the south side of the lane as a parking lot. As a member of the City of Langley's Park and Environment Advisory Committee, I helped pass a resolution calling for the full pedestrianization of the lane as originally envisioned. In the end, the City desided to keep some limited amount of parking in McBurney Lane.

Council approved design concept for McBurney Lane

Anyway now that construction is in full swing with the parking lot is closed, I have to wonder if the loss of those parking spaces will be felt by the merchants along Fraser Highway and Douglas Crescent. While it seems to some people that there is never enough parking in Downtown Langley, I think that there is enough parking, but the current parking supply is poorly managed.

The one-way section of Fraser Highway is prime parking, but yet it is 2 hour "free" parking. In reality, the City and the Downtown Langley merchants should be working to make sure that there is always some parking spaces along that corridor available. This could be accomplished through a mix of short-term parking and/or paid parking. The one thing that really turns off customers is a lack of available parking, not a lack of “free” parking. Long-term parking for people that work in the area should be encouraged in the City’s off-street parking lot because I know that many employees and business owners actually park in the prime parking spots in Downtown Langley today.

While I know that smart parking management plans have been successful in cities across North America (including my hometown of Vernon), I have a feeling that there are still too many people in power that believe Downtown Langley should be a “free” parking lot and not a pedestrian-friendly Downtown core.

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