Businesses on University Avenue are concerned about the loss of parking spaces as the city seeks to revitalize the streets

Changes to beautify downtown and encourage active transportation are coming to two main streets in the city, but some businesses are worried about what it will mean for their customers.

At Monday’s council meeting, councilors approved the recommended designs for University Avenue and Victoria Avenue in the city’s downtown area and ensured that businesses were consulted on the more detailed designs.

A report that was presented to the council predicts that the changes will cost around $49 million, although this figure does not include the cost of other developments that may be required, such as sewer reconstruction or lighting changes. .

The biggest point of contention was that the design plans proposed removing 84 parking spaces along University Avenue between Crawford Street and McDougall Street to better accommodate green space and bike lanes.

Changes are also part of the city Active Transportation Master Plan, which aims to improve infrastructure that better supports cyclists and pedestrians. Improvements to these parts of the city have been underway since at least 2016, when a transportation strategy was implemented to review needs.

On University Avenue, plans are for a 3.5 kilometer stretch between Huron Church Road and McDougall Street.

Loss of parking a “tragedy”

Some area business owners told the council they were unhappy and wanted them to consider alternatives.

“With the proposed cycle lanes to replace our main parking spaces, we are very concerned for our business as the removal of these parking spaces will cause great inconvenience and hindrance to our regular customers and online order deliverers,” said Booster Juice. owner David Bezarevic.

He added that it would reduce their sales as “hundreds” of customers use the car park daily, as does the business that delivers their groceries to them, as they do not have access to the driveway next to their store.

Owners of Booster Juice and G&G Jewelery have spoken out against removing parking spaces. The two said they want to see bike lanes come to the area, but hope parking can stay as it is essential for their businesses. (Google Maps)

Although Bezarevic said he’s not against bike lanes, he wants the city to consider putting the lanes next to parking spaces.

“If you decide to remove these essential parking spaces, you leave us with absolutely no choice but to close our downtown area and move elsewhere,” he said.

Jerry Ferrari of G&G Jewelery spoke on behalf of his son, who now owns the store. He agreed that while they want to see bike lanes come to the area, they can’t afford to lose parking.

“It would be a tragedy for our business to remove the three parking spaces,” Ferrari told advisers.

‘The trade-off is worth it:’ Business owner wants to drive foot traffic

But not everyone was opposed to the changes.

Allison Mistakidis, co-owner of Whiskey Jack Boutique – which recently moved from its location on Maiden Lane to University Avenue and Pelissier Street, backed the designs.

She said the loss of parking was “worth the trade-off of more cyclists and pedestrians”.

Jeff Hagan is the City of Windsor’s Transportation Planning Engineer. (Salma Ibrahim/Radio Canada)

“I can tell you that the lack of parking in front of our store on Maiden Lane has not hindered our ability to be successful,” she said, adding that as a cyclist the infrastructure on offer would also make her happy. feel “safer”.

The city’s senior transportation and planning engineer, Jeff Hagan, said there was “good availability” of parking on nearby streets.

“While I certainly understand the importance that businesses place on parking spaces right outside their door, there are a number of parking spaces nearby,” Hagan said.

He added that there is parking for businesses that were against the changes about 40 to 50 yards on Freedom Way or about 120 yards on Chatham Street.

Taking all of this into consideration, Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin adjusted the proposed motion to ensure that companies are consulted in the detailed design of the area to see if accommodations can be made.

Now that council has approved the recommended designs, an environmental study report completed on the area will be made available for a 30-day public comment period.

Once approved by the Department of Environment, Conservation and Parks, a detailed design will be drafted and construction will begin in phases.