Woolwich is looking to stall Waterloo Region’s plan for a commuter parking lot at the site of the former Breslau Hotel.
The location is one of three on a whittled down list of potential sites for a carpool parking area to serve commuters using Hwy. 7 to Guelph.
The township, however, wants the site struck from consideration, arguing the idea runs counter to its efforts to get commuter traffic off of Woolwich Street in favour of the bypass route, Fountain Street.
Discussing a planning staff report Tuesday night, councillors voted to tell the region the now-vacant property at 41 Woolwich St. S. is not an acceptable option.
“This location would be counterproductive,” said Coun. Mark Bauman.
They also proposed having Ward 3 councillor Murray Martin serve on the project team for the Breslau commuter parking lot study being organized by the region, where the township’s position would be emphasized.
Senior planner Jeremy Vink, who drafted the township report, is not convinced there’s a demand for a commuter lot.
“Who’s saying it’s needed? Will people even carpool?” he asked in an interview Wednesday. “We need to know who’s going to use it, and how they’re going to use it.”
By the time they’ve reached Breslau, commuters coming from Kitchener or Waterloo might as well keep on going to Guelph, he suggested.
The township will, however, take part in the study along with the region and City of Kitchener. Of the other two locations short-listed by regional staff, one is in the city and the second in Breslau. The former is just across the Grand River in the parking lot adjacent to the pumping station and park, while the latter is on Woolwich Street, in the little park immediately to the south of Victoria Street.
While that small Breslau park is ideal in terms of location, there would be problems adapting it for use as a parking lot, said John Hill, the region’s senior planner for transportation demand management.
Where the Kitchener and Breslau Hotel sites would cost $30,000 to $50,000 to make them suitable, initial estimates place the cost for the other Breslau site at about $218,000 because of the need for fill to provide parking, and for measures to mitigate the impact on the nearby stream.
That’s probably too rich for a temporary location, he indicated, noting the goal is to provide a pilot project to evaluate demand in advance of construction of a new Hwy. 7 north of the existing route. If the numbers warrant a permanent carpool lot, the region would press the Ministry of Transportation to build one as part of the highway project.
The Breslau Hotel site, while not ideal, has the advantage of being owned by the region and of being relatively inexpensive to prepare for use.
“It’s an inexpensive place. It’s probably not a prime location, but it’s a cheap option for a pilot project,” said Hill.