The District of Kent is considering changes to its parking requirements, which would allow business owners to offer less parking if they were opening a new business that didn’t have quite enough. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Parking reductions OK’d for new businesses in Agassiz

Businesses going into a building that require a ‘change of use’ no longer need to add extra parking

People looking to start up a new business in downtown Agassiz won’t have to worry quite as much about how much parking they have to provide.

On Monday (July 22), Kent council approved a new parking bylaw that would allow new businesses to provide less parking than they would have before.

The main change is for businesses moving into existing spaces in downtown Agassiz.

Under the previous rules, a commercial building that undergoes a “change of use” (like a retail store that is turned into a restaurant) was required to bring in more parking so it conformed to the district’s zoning bylaw.

This, staff said, made it difficult for businesses like restaurants to expand or start up in many buildings downtown, as restaurants require more parking spaces than most other retail or service industries.

The new rules, approved Monday, will allow most people to start a businesses with the existing number of spaces, regardless of how many that business type is supposed to have.

RELATED: Kent reconsiders parking requirements for downtown

Director of development services Darcey Kohuch did note that this parking exemption would only apply for up to two spaces, so “a restaurant doesn’t go crazy with their seating and create a parking issue.”

“It gives a little more flexibility for someone starting up a business, if they want to start something up, then they don’t get hindered financially. They at least get forgiven for two parking spaces for changing a use on an existing commercial zone,” he said.

The new rules also mean that new buildings being constructed for commercial use in downtown Agassiz will have a 35 per cent reduction on the number of parking spaces they’re required to provide. This will come into effect for all building uses other than hotels, motels, service stations and vehicle sales.

These rules would apply for the Agassiz townsite, and primarily affect businesses on Pioneer and Cheam Avenues.

The Ministry of Transportation would not sign off on the bylaw unless it included a clause that said businesses on provincial highways would have to abide by the ministry’s parking requirements.

As most businesses do not have their parking on Highway 9, staff felt this would not be a major change to the bylaw or create significant impacts to business owners.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the parking changes.

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