Dozens of new parking spaces proposed for Fredericton's Waterloo Row

Dozens of new parking spaces could be added to Waterloo Row later this year, a proposal that has at least one councillor concerned about the effect it might have on the iconic Fredericton street.

Fredericton city staff have proposed adding about 50 new spaces on the eastern side of Waterloo Row between Lansdowne and Alexandra streets.

The proposal would also formalize existing parking on the western side of Waterloo Row with painted lines and the installation of signs between University Avenue and Lansdowne Street.

Waterloo Row connects motorists from the eastern end of Fredericton to its downtown, and serves as the face of the city's heritage preservation area, lined with opulent homes that have served as the primary residence for some of the city's most prominent citizens.

The parking proposal was first pitched at the city's mobility committee earlier this month but was brought before general council for the first time on Monday evening, where it was met with some criticism from Ward 1 Coun. Margo Sheppard.

"We're talking about a very historic and very popular tourism draw in Waterloo Row, and to have a lot of cars parking on it, it just seems antithetical in some ways to the idea of it being an attractive sort of historic neighbourhood," Sheppard said in an interview after Monday's meeting.

Coun. Margo Sheppard, vice-chair of the city's environmental stewardship committee, says she wants to see a bylaw that requires residents to limit the amount of time they can idle their vehicles for.
Coun. Margo Sheppard says she isn't sure adding parking spaces to Waterloo Row is a good idea, considering the heritage significance of the homes on it. (Aidan Cox/CBC)

Sheppard also questioned creating more parking spaces in a city that's also been trying to encourage residents to turn more toward alternatives such as public transit and cycling.

"So that's a bit of a mixed message to my mind," she said.

Councillors gave first and second reading to a motion to allow the parking changes on Waterloo Row and a handful of other streets in the city.

Third reading of the motion will come up at the city's next general council meeting in July.

The city is pursuing the parking changes in an effort to improve safety and accessibility for families who use Morrell Park, said Dylan Gamble, director of engineering and operations for the city.

Gamble said the park's parking lot often gets full during scheduled activities, prompting users to park along side streets, and then cross Waterloo Row to get to the park.

With the added parking spots, Waterloo Row would become narrower, effectively slowing traffic, while reducing the chances that people would need to park on one of the side streets off Waterloo Row, he said.

If approved, the changes would be piloted and monitored for how they affect the street.

"The first thing we're going to look at is just if people are actually going to use it," Gamble said.

"And then we … have equipment that can check and see the speeds, if they've actually reduced from what we've measured in the past."

Jason LeJeune
Coun. Jason LeJeune says he informed residents in his ward about the plan to add parking spaces and didn't hear any opposition from them. (CBC News)

Ward 11 Coun. Jason Lejeune said the bylaw amendments before council would create an additional 50 parking spots along the part of Waterloo Row adjacent to Morrell Park.

He said he sent letters to residents in the area to let them know about the proposed changes and met with six of them to discuss them.

"Most of them were just looking for clarification or additional information," Lejeune said. "Overall, I think most, if not all, were supportive of the project."

Lejeune said none of the residents expressed concerns about parked cars affecting the historic esthetic of Waterloo Row.