Municipalities across B.C. are now in charge of setting accessible parking standards for new developments.
Since the province passed the responsibility to individual municipalities on Dec. 10, councillors in Victoria are already concerned about how this will affect the amount of accessible parking — and the people who use it.
Coun. Marianne Alto said access to parking is a “basic human rights” issue for people who have mobility restrictions and may require accessible parking.
“I think it’s incumbent on all of us to make sure we do everything we can,” Alto said.
The policy will not affect existing parking spaces or applications in process, but will apply to all residential and commercial developments going forward. Until Dec. 10, the building code was regulated on a provincial level and required at least one accessible parking spot for each building that has parking, with standards for dimensions and the surfacing.
A motion put forward by Alto and Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe noted many municipalities are not prepared, as many do not have bylaws about accessible parking. Alto said they have concerns about how the new policy could affect city planning, responding to land use applications and consistency city to city.
“That’s the root of some of our concerns, because when you’re building something new, that’s the opportunity that you have to make sure you have accessibility for people who need their vehicles in order to help them get around,” Alto said. “It’s a lot easier to do that when you’re building something from scratch, when you’re starting out rather than to try and retrofit something. Losing this requirement could be quite significant.”
Alto and Thornton-Joe will put forward the motion in the Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13, and direct city staff to investigate what this change will mean for Victoria. The motion also asks Mayor Lisa Helps to write a letter to the province and express council’s reservations about the new policy.
Alto said it would have been nice to have a heads up when the province decided to shift the responsibility onto the municipalities.
“I don’t believe anybody reached out to the City to say this is what’s happening. We learned about it fairly recently,” Alto said.