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Cycling group petitions for less parking, more bike lanes in Moncton

Members of the New Brunswick Cycling Advocacy Group wants Moncton city council to update its parking bylaws to make it tougher for businesses to have large parking lots.

Krysta Cowling calls on city to update bylaws and make big parking lots costlier for business

Krysta Cowling of the New Brunswick Cycling Advocacy Group is asking the City of Moncton to update its parking bylaws. (Clara Baillot/Radio-Canada)

Parking in Moncton is always a hot topic and later this month, a community group will ask city council to consider updating its bylaws to make it tougher for businesses to have large parking lots.

We've built this city around vehicles and it's time we take a step back form that and we start investing more in other modes of transportation.- Krysta  Cowling, NB Cycling Advocacy Group

Krysta Cowling, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Cycling Advocacy Group, said the proposal comes out of a controversial decision to allow a developer to add 910 parking spaces to the old Moncton High School site, where there are already 100 spaces.

"We've built this city around vehicles and it's time we take a step back form that and we start investing more in other modes of transportation," Cowling said.

Group wants parking cap

Cowling said right now, businesses in Moncton are required to have a minimum number of parking spaces.

If a business doesn't have the required number, it must pay the City of Moncton a fee for each space below the minimum.

"We're asking them to inverse the current system of parking minimums to one of parking maximums," Cowling said.

"So if you want to put in more parking spots you still can, but you'd have to pay a fee and then that cost would go into a fund that would be reinvested into active transportation. So we'd help fund more transit, we'd help fund bike lanes, things like that."

Petition launched

The New Brunswick Cycling Advocacy Group has posted a petition on its Facebook page, and Cowling will make her presentation to Moncton officials on Jan. 22.

She hopes it will start a discussion about priorities when it comes to transportation.

A new proposal would set a maximum number of parking spaces for businesses and require owners to pay to add more. (Vanessa Blanch/CBC)
"Right now driving is really convenient in Moncton … and I think by making some changes we start to invest more in active transportation and we can make that a convenient and competitive option as well."

Cowling said the proposal fits in well with the plan for the new Downtown Events Centre, which won't have a parking lot.

She supports that controversial plan and took part in the meetings that led to the dispersed parking model.

"It's time we change that train of thought and start investing more in transit and more in cycling infrastructure and more in creating a walkable city," Cowling said.

She isn't suggesting everyone sell their cars but said she would like to see walking, biking and taking the bus become convenient, safe and affordable options whether you are going to a future show at the Downtown Events Centre or to pick up groceries.

We need to be putting money  towards  bike lanes … but we're not seeing a lot of headway being made so we're hoping this helps put some fire to that.- Krysta  Cowling

"What we find is that when we start making more of these options more accessible, it's actually better for the people who are driving because now they have less competition for parking spots and you see less congestion."

Cowling is optimistic Moncton city council will consider the change to the bylaw when members see the amount of support for the idea.

"We need to make investments in our buses and our public transit. We need to be putting money towards bike lanes … but we're not seeing a lot of headway being made so we're hoping this helps put some fire to that."

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