An application by the Katz Group to rezone an area north of the downtown arena to use as a temporary parking lot for up to 10 years is causing some concern.
“I don’t think it was originally part of the entire arena district plan so I’m not exactly sure why the proposal came forward now,” area councillor Scott McKeen said. “To me, it probably should have been part of the original deal – all the moving pieces put together.”
A parcel of land is owned by the Katz Group and its development partner and is proposed for Phase 2 of the arena district development.
Until that comes to fruition however, the company wants to turn about two city blocks worth into a surface-level parking lot. The application to rezone the area could see it used as a temporary parking lot for up to 10 years.
McKeen said the underground parking would be ready in three to four years and he has concerns about this lot.
“Surface parking – there’s no activity around it – it creates a dead zone and that dead zone can then spill over into neighbouring communities,” McKeen said. “It can be a magnet for petty crime. There’s just not a lot really to recommend them. I’m not against parking. I’m not against people driving downtown.
“We want people to visit downtown so we need to have ample parking but there’s 18,000 spots within walking distance of the arena. Eighteen-thousand!”
McKeen said that suggests demand for parking isn’t the motive behind adding more parking spaces downtown.
“One would be a revenue stream. Two would be to offer some sort of specific parking option for part of their season ticket base,” he guessed.
McKeen added that if there was an “iron-clad way” to ensure that once the underground parking was ready, that surface lot was removed, he might consider supporting the idea.
In a statement, a spokesperson for ICE District said:
“In response to the land zoning change proposal, ICE District’s proposed use is temporary. We are currently working on a preliminary master plan and will commit to a plan by Q1 2017.
“We have had several meetings with the Central McDougall Community League and there have been no objections. We have also asked for their input on the master plan. We have shown our commitment to best-in-class design and construction with other projects within ICE District.
“The proposal will help to improve the area and make the space more hospitable for pre- and post-event commuters. Not to mention, the area will become more hospitable for vehicles and pedestrians.”
A public open house on the issue will take place Monday at the Edmonton Chinese Baptist Church at 111 Street and 109 Avenue between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News