KAMLOOPS — Since Monday, people have been using the new surface parking lot at Fourth and Seymour, the site of the former Daily News building.
There are 172 stalls, nearly double the number of stalls than the old parking lot, serving both downtown employees and the public who need a place to park.
"For us, it's great because we do some events downtown and it gives us more space for parking, and not having to walk too far," said Kamloops resident Val Vicars.
The new parking lot has 90 permit stalls and 82 hourly public spaces on the outside of the lot. Yves Skeels is a business owner downtown and is relieved to have the parking lot back.
"I like it. I think there is a lot of controversy. People are unhappy and some are happy, but I love it. I'm glad that it's back," she said. "So convenient. We need parking. All we have really is Impark, so for the city to build this it's great. It's great for the community. I know it's going to help out a lot of people. There'll be visitors that are going to park here. There are businesses that are going to park here. Customers that are going to park here."
The parking, people say, will come in handy on event nights downtown, such as Blazer games.
"Often we'll park here and walk to the hockey games because there's limited parking downtown for different events. It gives us easy access," said Vicars.
But the parking lot is not without its controversies. The city paid $4.8 million for the property with the goal of improving downtown parking, and as part of that plan it pushed for a performing arts centre. That failed in a referendum in 2015.
Two years later, it's a surface-level lot, coming in at a cost of $1.1 million, including the price of the demolition. Altogether, the city has put out $5.9 million for the property and parking lot.
"It's nice, it's really big, and I think the parking lot behind the building suited us fine to begin with," said resident Carolyn Bilkey. "We didn't really need this one. I wasn't pleased with The Bay building being brought down anyhow. I think it could've been used for something else."
Bilkey felt it could've been used as a winter shelter with Stuart Wood overcapacity.
The parking lot will remain until council decides on the next steps in the property's development.
"It'll sit," said the city's capital projects manager Darren Crundwell. "Mixed reviews on the project, depending on who you speak with. But now we do have a source of revenue there until there is a better use for that property."
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