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Community forest overflow parking raises public concerns

The city acknowledged that access parking for the Cranbrook Community Forest has been an ongoing issue.

The city acknowledged that access parking for the Cranbrook Community Forest has been an ongoing issue, but building a new parking lot could cost as much as $141,000.

City staff brought a report showing the the costs and issues associated with building a new parking lot off Baker Mountain Road, during the Monday, March 9 council meeting.

CAO Wayne Staudt said the report came after a request from the public to address parking concerns near the top of 2nd Street South and onto Baker Mountain Road. He noted the concerns stem from people parking along those roads.

“Where the residents up in that area see a lot of people parking on the street and in front of their homes,” he said. “The request is probably stemming from the concern of (those members of the) public who would like to see an additional parking lot built, rather than parking on the street.”

Back in February 2013, the additional parking request was brought before the Cranbrook in Motion committee. A recommendation was sent to council at the March 4, 2013 meeting.

The recommendation was to consider development of off-street parking for additional access to the Community Forest.

“Just so everyone knows, the Cranbrook Community Forest land at the end of 2nd Street is outside of city limits,” Staudt said, noting the parking lot area would also not be in city limits.

City staff reviewed the site in question and prepared an estimate of costs involved for the construction of a parking on the subject property.

City staff looked at two sizes of parking lots — one with 30 spaces and one with 60 spaces. The 30 space lot would cost approximately $81,000, while the 60 space lot would cost $141,000.

Staudt noted that the construction of a parking lot off Baker Mountain Road is not in the Five Year Financial Plan, but could be included in the 2016 budget discussions if council so wished.

Coun. Ron Popoff asked whether existing parking lots could be upgraded.

Staudt said that since they are not in city limits, the city doesn’t manage the parking lots — they are in Area C.

“They haven’t made a request or anything like that for us to upgrade those parking lots for them,” Staudt said, adding it would be something for the Cranbrook Community Forest Society to deal with. They would likely take it to Area C or the Regional District of East Kootenay board.

Popoff suggested expanding the lots already out there as it could be more cost-effective.

He said they are meeting their intended use, but could be expanded to encourage more use of the Community Forest.

Acting Mayor Wesly Graham suggested that council delegates to the regional district bring the suggestion forward at a future meeting.

Graham also suggested writing a letter to the society, Area C or the regional district.

The city will be drafting up the letter.

In their review, city staff noted a number of considerations for the parking lot. The first was that the parking lot needed to be constructed to allows for continued maintenance by city crews and could not be simply a dirt area.

It would also need to include construction of an access from Baker Mountain Road including a culvert and paved apron.

Then there is clearing and grubbing of the site, stripping of the unsuitable soils and engineered fill for the stripped area to a depth of 30 cm.

The surface would then need to be prepared for the parking area with 10 cm of crushed gravel.

Fencing or barricades would need to be erected to prevent vehicular access into the Community Forest.

“It should be noted that there are three existing public access points along 2nd Street South and Baker Mountain Road,” city staff wrote win the report. “There is also access to the Community Forest at the College of the Rockies where there is a large paved parking lot. Public access can also be gained near the Ministry of Forests Initial Attack Fire Fighting Base off Stahl Road.”