BEPPLE – Reducing downtown parking spaces could create ‘sticky streets’

Rue Caulaincourt, a sticky street in Paris. (Image: Nancy Bepple)

THE CITY OF KAMLOOPS is revising its 2005 City Centre Plan. Their goal is to create a plan that guides land use for the next 20 years in the centre of the city.  The plan will encompass the Downtown, Sagebrush, and West End neighborhoods.

In essence, they want to make our city centre as vibrant as possible, now and in 20 year.

The hundreds of people who have shown up for the community engagement events, and completed the on-line surveys says that our community has bought into that idea too.

There are many ways our centre is vibrant.  There are some great things that have happened in our downtown. From BrewLoops to Santa Claus Parade to Hot Nites.  From Blazers games to Art Gallery openings, the downtown is a place a lot of our community events happen.

The centre is the hub of culture and sports for the city.

But, the plan is not just about the large festivals and hockey games, but the day-to-day.   The plan is how the downtown will feel on an average day.  Is it a place that is alive from morning to late?  Or is it a place people just drive through?  Is it the place we take our out of town guests, or somewhere we only go for work?

City planners talk about something called “sticky streets”. Those are streets where people like to go.  Where they linger, people-watch, and as a result, connect with others.

“Sticky streets” is what I feel every time I’m down on Victoria Street between 2nd and 4th Avenue.  I meet people I know.  There’s a cafe to sit at and have a coffee.  There’s window shopping.

But I can’t say that I feel it everywhere downtown.  Much of St. Paul Street in the downtown is parking lots, making that an uninviting street except when the Farmer’s Market is on. Lansdowne Street is the domain of the chip trucks heading to the pulp mill.

Is it possible for the new City Centre Plan to make more of Kamloops’ downtown “sticky streets,” so that day to day we all want to linger longer in our downtown?

All over the world, there are “sticky streets”.  Robson Street in Vancouver, especially around the Vancouver Art Gallery, is a “sticky street.”  ChampsÉlysées in Paris is a sticky street. Times Square in New York is a sticky street.

But sticky streets don’t have to be just the grandest boulevards.  A short alley that has been given a few planters and space for some tables or a bench could be part of a neighborhood.  For example, the entrance to the alley on 3rd Avenue between Victoria Street and Seymour Street  could be made into a sticky place.  That’s what is done in Paris in the entrance of many small lane ways off of heavy traffic streets.

Or some of the areas currently taken up by cars could be taken up by people.  With 25 per cent of the Kamloops downtown currently dedicated to parking, there is a lot of dead space where there are no people.  People like to hang out with people, not with parked cars.

Slower traffic makes places more pleasant too.  Slowing traffic by narrowing lanes would make Seymour Street and Lansdowne more pleasant to walk down.

To make more space for people, we need to reduce the space for cars.

That’s heretical for some, but there are many ways to remove a few parking spots to expand sidewalks.  That’s what has been done in Nelson, B.C., where patios expand into parking spots in the summer months, making their Baker Street come alive.

Some would argue that without parking, people wouldn’t come downtown. But people go where there are reasons to go, parking or no parking.  Look at how far people walk to get to Royal Inland Hospital, or to Blazers games, or Thompson Rivers University.  Of course, not everyone walks, but many do.  Meaning that if there were enough reasons to go downtown, people would walk a few blocks if they couldn’t find a spot right in front of their favorite store.

One final thought: the City of Kamloops constantly talks about reducing parking demand in the downtown.  Yet they are one of the largest users of parking in the downtown. Their employees receive free parking, giving them no incentive to change their habits.

Along with creating a plan for downtown employees to take transit to work, it’s time for the City of Kamloops to encourage their own employees to take transit too.

When the last City Centre Plan was drafted in 2005, Thompson Rivers University had just incorporated.  We had survived the wildfire of 2005.  CJ Stretch still played for the Blazers.

If we think how far we’ve come as a city since then, it’s exciting to think how far we can go 20 years from now, with a brand new City Centre Plan.

The City has completed Phase 1 and 2 of the planning process. Get out when you can to give your input during Phase 3.

Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (7758 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on BEPPLE – Reducing downtown parking spaces could create ‘sticky streets’

  1. David Johnson // June 22, 2018 at 5:04 PM // Reply

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Minimise Seymour and Lansdown lanes, and slow traffic to the point where no one really wants to drive there. Parked cars would vanish and restaurant patios could flourish … mind you … you would have to buy up the entire CP Rail property and install a thoroughfare right thru there, as trucking, industry, commercial and dont forget tax paying commuters will need to get from the east to the west and vice versa … I wonder what CP wants for it?
    ^tongue in cheek there^.

    Nelson HAS a road system and a bypass thru town that allows for efficient movement as well as kitchy sticky streets. Beyond a Major highway#1 bypass, Kamloops does not have that. We at least got pass thru traffic off of Victoria and we are stuck with the rest.

  2. cwrightogs // June 20, 2018 at 3:25 PM // Reply

    Couldn’t agree more Nancy!

    Especially this part:

    “That’s heretical for some, but there are many ways to remove a few parking spots to expand sidewalks. That’s what has been done in Nelson, B.C., where patios expand into parking spots in the summer months, making their Baker Street come alive.”

    East Coast cities do this every Summer. Restaurants and pubs can rent out the parking spaces out front and they put temporary walkways there so they can expand their patios. It adds so much to the vibrancy of a street.

    All the talk about expanding parking in Kamloops always bothers me. Most cities are reducing parking as cycling, ride sharing and eventually autonomous vehicles become the norm. If this stupid province would finally enable ride sharing, we might actually see reduced driving and parking in the downtown core.

  3. R A George // June 20, 2018 at 12:02 PM // Reply

    kamloops biggest problem is the bums that seem to literally infest the streets.Get rid of them and you would have an entirely different downtown,but thats never going to happen

    • The “bums” driving or riding with un-muffled vehicles or with music blasting? But I agree the hang-out spot at Third and Victoria is sure a sore spot. What’s with a classy downtown and a junk food outlet right in the middle of it?

  4. Cynthia Friedman // June 20, 2018 at 9:54 AM // Reply

    Well said! Totally agree. Seymour Street to me has a lot of untapped potential…I would take aim there first.

    • First and foremost all heavy truck traffic needs to be re-routed away from the downtown unless for very specific reasons, like deliveries to retail outlets or local work. Secondly an ongoing law enforcement presence with no tolerance for unsocial behaviour and thirdly, keep the place spotless…pride should never have a day off!

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