March is moving month for hundreds of downtown Saint John motorists.
Starting next week, a section of the Brunswick Square parking lot will be closed for renovations that are expected to last until the end of October.
Up to 300 drivers who would normally buy monthly licenses will be affected by the closure. However, the garage will remain open for hourly parking.
CBC News spoke to several people heading to their cars after work on Tuesday, where accounts varied as to how and when they were made aware of the disruption.
There is a lot of movement, a lot of momentum, a lot of change.– Ian MacKinnon, Commissioner of Saint John Transit and Parking.
Some drivers only learned on Monday that they had to leave, while others, like Rose Johnston, have known it for several days.
She was told that a spot had been reserved for her at the Peel Plaza parking garage on Carleton Street.
“There is a girl and I in my office who are monthly mechanics,” she said. “And we both got the email probably two weeks ago. It was saying on March 2nd, hand in your card, you can get the new card for Peel. [Plaza]. “
Take risks elsewhere
Johnston, who has parked in Brunswick Square for 13 years, has decided to cancel his pass entirely.
In the past, Johnston said, she was forced out of the aging garage and will now try her luck elsewhere.
Lucky for her, she should have no trouble finding a new parking space.
JD Irving Ltd. recently opened a new parking lot on Elliott Row for its employees, creating 500 vacant spaces in 16 downtown lots.
“There’s a lot of movement, a lot of momentum, a lot of change,” said Ian MacKinnon, Commissioner of Saint John Transit and Parking.
The parking commission itself lost 380 monthly customers in several batches when the JDI garage portal opened.
MacKinnon said 125 of those cars were parked at Peel Plaza, the commission’s flagship garage.
But weeks after those commuters moved their cars, 140 Brunswick Square drivers are expected to move in on Thursday, taking up any remaining spaces allocated to monthly parking.
MacKinnon said there had also been “numerous” inquiries about space in other commission lots since the Brunswick Square renovations were announced.
Another change to the city’s parking scene will come when Irving Oil opens its new parking garage on King Street East.
The garage is intended to complement the new Irving home office building currently under construction near King’s Square.
Many of these office workers are also scattered over many parking lots in the city center.
“These Irving Oil parking lots are not part of the Saint John Parking Commission, but they certainly park in garages in the upscale neighborhood,” MacKinnon said.
“There will be a capacity of around 350 which will become free. So that will have an indirect impact on us.”