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Cairn Building parking lot requirement changes causing grief

The city is looking at their options to fine or potentially even issue a stop work order to the Cairn building. The issue stems from their current parking lot, which the city says needs to needs to be expanded from 40 stalls to 69 and was supposed to be completed this past summer. Residents of the building including Brad Cameron the owner and developer of the Cairn appeared before city council Monday night to voice his concerns about the proposed expansion and the potential punitive measures from the city.

The building was originally approved in August of 2010 for 40 stalls and at that time street parking was also taken in to consideration. Since that time changes to city bylaws have impacted parking requirements and street parking is no longer considered. Cameron says he’s not sure about the need for the extra parking, even providing photos to council to demonstrate the availability of parking at different times with their current lot. Cameron also says the project had only budgeted for the initial 40 stalls and estimates for the additional work are around $100,000.

“There just isn’t those fund there. We have approached groups like community futures and they’ve been able to help a little bit. But, again, $100,000 is an awful lot of money to come out of nowhere. If we were able to borrow that money from Community Futures or from some other group within the city then of course we would be looking at going ahead as soon as we could.”

While formulas are used to determine parking requirements for buildings, Mayor Bill Given says those can be altered at council’s discretion.

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“A number of years ago council amended the land use bylaw to change it so that the central commercial district actually has no parking minimums. Somebody could theoretically build a building in the downtown core with zero parking and that’s not that the city is recommending that, it’s that in that instance [the former council] allowed that to be the decision of the developer on how much they needed to provided in order for their building to be feasible.”

“I think,” Given continued, “there’s always been a recognition that the affordable housing component of the building might merit some unique consideration and it will be interesting to see how this council weighs that.”

Administration was directed to bring more information and alternative measures to a Council Committee of the Whole meeting to be schedule for the new year. Cameron and Given both say they feel confident that a solution can be found.

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