Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
THUNDER BAY -- The waterfront's busiest time of the year seems to be showing that parking in the city's north core isn't an issue.
Waterfront BIA vice-chair Jim Comuzzi said he alone has 78 parking spots that are free and open to the public after 5 p.m in the heart of downtown. With 15,000 people downtown on Canada Day and another 9,000 for Bluesfest, there were a lot of empty spaces on his property.
"It's amazing how the parking is not an issue," Comuzzi said. "Nobody used them. I had maybe four or five cars in on Canada Day."
Commuzzi said while downtowns are for people, not cars, ample parking means there's a lot more work to be done to get people to the area.
"That's when we have a parking problem, not when they're full," he said. "When we have empty spots as we do right now we're not doing our jobs."
Despite the visual evidence, Comuzzi said people still think parking is going to be a problem if an event centre was built in the area.
City community services manager Michael Smith said while a busy couple of weekends have shown that parking isn't an issue, a report due to city council next month should prove it once and for all. The study, part of the event centre's phase three feasibility, is looking at the available spots, potential city-owned property in the area and expected vehicle and pedestrian flow after an event.
"They're looking at those options as we speak," Smith said.
The question of whether or not an estimated $6 million parkade will be needed will be answered in the study, something Comuzzi doesn't think is necessary.
"That could go toward other infrastructure needs," he said.
It will also take a look at the shuttle services that were in place for Canada Day and Bluesfest, which Smith said aren't used as much as people might think.
The study is looking at spaces within an eight-minute walk from the proposed site.
"From our perspective that is a reasonable expectation to be able to get to these types of events," Smith said.