The City of Saskatoon is looking to remove minimum parking requirements in the city in the hopes of reducing infrastructure costs for housing construction.
“This is not a parking policy, this is a housing policy,” Chris Guerette, CEO of the Saskatchewan Realtors Association, said, adding that the city is facing a housing crisis.
Wednesday’s city council meeting saw a discussion about making changes to a zoning bylaw that would remove requirements for new housing developments to create parking lots.
“(Saskatchewan is) seeing unprecedented population growth. This year is the largest population growth that we’ve ever seen in our history,” Guerette said.
She said they are trying to avoid a situation similar to 2006 and 2007 where people were buying houses without even seeing them.
It was noted by city administration that if the parking requirements were removed, exemptions could be brought back to the table.
The recommendation was passed by council and Mayor Charlie Clark said there were still some steps before they implemented a bylaw, adding that this was a move toward that bylaw.
The report provided a list of potential expectations and outcomes for such a change, saying that a change to the zoning bylaw wouldn’t mean parking would no longer exist; instead, the decision would be left up to the developers.
Bertrand Bartake, a local architect, gave a presentation in support of removing the city’s parking requirements during a committee meeting discussing this topic on Dec. 7, saying that mandates are costly and it should be up to businesses and developers to dictate how much parking is needed.
“It’s an incredibly wasteful use of land,” Bartake said.
He compared land value between a parking lot and a condo building downtown, with the parking lot valued at around $2.2 million and the condo building valued at over $23 million.
Bartake said removing the parking mandate was relatively easy and there’s a huge return on investment from the city’s perspective if more structures like the condo building were incentivized.