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The news comes on the eve of the council shutting down its 120-odd space Ballarat Street carpark "temporarily", from Monday, to accommodate plant and materials needed to construct the first stage of the arterial route, expected to take about three years.
In 2018, the council started looking for private investors to fund two proposed parking buildings, one at Ballarat St and the other at Boundary Road.
The Ballarat St building plans have been delayed due to a proposed community hub, Project Manawa, around that area.
Property and infrastructure general manager Peter Hansby tells Mountain Scene the council got consent for a 240-odd parking building at Boundary Rd, priced at about $28m, but,
for now at least, it’s on hold.
Hansby says that’s primarily due to cost.
"The ground conditions there are extremely challenging, so it had some quite significant pile requirements to deal with the less-than-desirable ground conditions, so the cost of that carpark, while still able to wash its face, is still quite expensive on a per car park basis."
Further, he says, there are already 130 carparks at the site, so thought had to be given to the benefits of spending that amount of money on doubling that number.
And, given the climate emergency and a need to encourage people to travel actively, or use public transport, "there’s a bit of a question around whether continuing to build carpark facilities is the right thing, or whether we push harder for the mode shift now".
But, he says, that’ll take time and there’s a need for "interim-type parking" for the next few years.
Hansby: Net effect of parking changes ‘nil’
He reveals to Scene consent’s in for about 200 parks at the Lakeview site, above the James Clouston Memorial Park — he’s hoping that’ll be "up and running" within a couple of months.
Overall, he says, what’s been taken out of the CBD due to various capital projects will be
replaced with off-street facilities.
"The net impact should be nil … when we have everything in place."
Hansby also notes other private carparking buildings around town "are certainly not operating at capacity at this stage", though he accepts they come with a higher cost.
He appreciates the loss of parking, and a swathe of capital works projects — including the "shovel-ready" CBD street upgrades and arterial route construction — make for a challenging period for resort residents, who have battled with traffic gridlock daily over the past few weeks, and central businesses, who’ve been fighting for patronage for a year.
"They’re intended to stimulate the economy, so I guess I’d put the question back to you — do you think you would turn down that amount of money on the basis of having to accelerate that work?
"Wouldn’t it be worse if you didn’t have all this international tourism and we weren’t doing any work, but we knew we still had the work to do?
"That would seem, to me, to be a pretty horrible position to be in."
He says council’s worked with contractors to ensure the town centre isn’t "completely shut
That said, he’s mindful of the potential impact on CBD businesses.
"Businesses are hurting and are our works the final straw in that?" Hansby adds.