A Regina medical clinic says they are at risk of having to relocate or even potentially close because of a city bylaw that requires their parking lot to be paved.
Queen City Medical Specialists is a clinic located on 11th Avenue in Regina. They currently have been using an unpaved parking lot behind the building as a parking area for both staff and patients.
However, a city bylaw requires all non-residential parking lots to be paved. The city has given the clinic a deadline of Sept. 11 to comply and pave the lot, but owner Johnathan Richardson says they won’t be paving it.
Richardson says he has tried to work with the city to find a solution but has had no luck. The city says the responsibility to pave a lot is solely on the business that owns it. They do not offer any assistance to pay for paving services and failure to comply could result in fines up to $25,000.
“The intent of the bylaw is to ensure that there’s not a lot of granular material being tracked onto the city infrastructure and keeps city sidewalks cleaner,” said Ben Mario, city planning manager for the city.
Richardson says paving could cost the clinic up to $150,000.
“The financial hardship of doing it would be catastrophic for the clinic itself,” said Johnathan Richardson, clinic owner and manager. “I know a lot of small business owners have struggled the last couple years and to come up with over $100,000 in basically a couple months is going to be a very hard hardship.”
If the lot is unpaved by the deadline, it cannot be used as a parking lot. Richardson says losing the lot could lead to some serious implications for the clinic.
He stressed the importance of the lot’s usage for patients with accessibility issues. As 11th Avenue is often filled with cars already parked along the street, Richardson says he wouldn’t want to risk a patient injury while trying to get to the clinic.
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“It’s for our patients that have accessibility issues so they’re in close proximity to the doors. The fear is that if we’re ordered to stop parking back here, then 11th Avenue will be overcrowded with cars and bus routes and it could create potential harm for patients walking far distances or possibly walking into traffic. They deserve not to walk two or three blocks to get to their appointment.”
He says if it comes to that, the clinic would have to seriously consider relocating or even closing for the safety of their patients.
“That would be very hard on the demographic of people in this area that rely on the clinic. It’s close in proximity to the general hospital, which makes travelling easy for all.”
Richardson also owns 1 Stop Vacuum Centres next door to the clinic. That building includes an unpaved parking lot that they use as well. While they haven’t been asked to pave that lot yet, Richardson says if he’s required to, it would most likely cause the business to close.
“If they did ask us to comply to get that lot paved, it would really hurt that business as a whole where we might be shutting down.”
But Richardson’s parking lots aren’t the only unpaved lots in the area. He questions why small businesses are being forced to invest their money into paving lots while nearby Impark parking lots continue to run unpaved.
“I just feel that there’s a little bit of bias that they’re really pushing on local business owners here, but maybe not the big companies.”
The city says these Impark lots may have been grandfathered and exempted from the bylaw.
“All I can say is that we would look at each individual situation on its own and if we do get complaints or questions, then we follow up in whatever way we see appropriate,” said Mario.
Richardson hopes that the city will either allow them to keep their lot unpaved or offer a grace period. He also hopes that the city will prioritize working with local businesses on 11th Avenue to revitalize the area before making them invest in parking lots.
“I think putting pressure on local businesses that maybe don’t have the funds to throw money into parking lots doesn’t seem like a proper revitalization plan to me,” Richardson said. “I think you need to create a balance where the city and owners work together on a common goal to make the area better.”
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