Major upgrades will continue at the city’s parkades, some of which celebrate their half-century anniversary this year.
The ongoing $8-million project is two-thirds complete. It has resolved pooling water during heavy rain, added an accessibility ramp, improved security and repaired cracked concrete and rusted rebar.
“Some of our facilities are quite long in the tooth and they’re well past the national life expectancy for a parking facility,” said Victor Van Den Boomen, manager of parking services. “The money we’re spending is a lot cheaper than replacing the structures.”
Using a low-ball estimate, replacing the city’s parkades would cost $22 million. Instead, the repairs aim to extend the parkades’ lifespans by another 20 years. Trickiest on the to-do list will be replacing worn-out stairs at the View Street parkade.
“It means you’re going to have to jack out the whole staircase,” said Van Den Boomen.
Ongoing deck work will take place at four parkades. When moisture seeps in through the decks, it rusts the rebar, which expands and breaks away the concrete, he explained.
The goal, he added, is to spread the work out so as to minimize the impact on the public. “It’s hard because a lot of people depend on the parkade.”
Maintenance closures have resulted in some lost business.
In 2012, parking revenue fell short by $494,155, but there are many reasons for the dip.
One factor is the HST, which increased daily rates from $11 to $13.50. For instance, in 2011, revenue at the Broughton Street parkade dropped $163,000.
“The main issue is less people are coming downtown shopping and there is less use of the parkades,” said Dwayne Kalynchuk, director of engineering and public works, at a budget discussion last month.
“We need to look at parking seriously,” said Coun. Shellie Gudgeon. “Looking at parking as a revenue source is a really dangerous slope to go down.”
Maximizing profits is not the key principle guiding parkade policy, said Van Den Boomen.
“Our goals aren’t for the revenues so much as providing the short-term shopping parking.”
That said, parkades do earn money for the city. They typically generate approximately $5 million in revenues, more than offsetting the $2 million spent by the city on operating costs.
Big ticket item
• This year, the city has earmarked $3.1 million to rehabilitate parkades in 2012. It’s one of the bigger ticket items in its $56.4 million draft capital plan. The actual cost, according to the project manager, will be somewhere between $1 million and $2 million.