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Sky-high parking prices spark new services for car owners

Do you have a parking horror story? Share it with us in the comments section. THE CANADIAN PRESS Images/Bayne Stanley

TORONTO — What’s the highest downtown parking rate you’ve seen in your city? In Toronto, a monthly parking spot in the Financial District could set you back, on average, $330 to $370. That’s still cheap compared to the more than $500 you might pay in downtown Calgary, which was named North America’s second most expensive city to park — right behind New York — in a 2012 survey.

For some, though, it’s a necessity. In the book The High Cost of Free Parking, author Donald Shoup writes that, around the world, cars are parked 95 per cent of the time. That still doesn’t make paying for it any easier.

“Parking is one of those things that everyone loathes paying for. It’s such a painful thing to dig into your wallet for,” said Alex Enchin.

The 27-year-old has experienced the pain firsthand. He once tried searching for an affordable downtown parking stall on an online classified site, but was put off by its lack of a map function. So he and a friend decided to start a new site called WhereiPark.

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It connects people looking for a monthly parking stall to those renting one out. Owners are able to list their stalls for free, and then pay a cut of the monthly rate in exchange for less hassle, Enchin explained.

The site joins other parking aggregators like BestParking.com and Parkopedia.

READ MORE: Parking tickets — which ones you must pay and which ones you don’t

“I think one of the reasons there’s such opportunity for entrepreneurs and why there’s been a lot of attention on parking is because there’s a lack of data and there’s never really been a consumer-focus for the industry.”

It’s not the only service trying to make things more convenient for drivers. Toronto motorists can now finally pay for parking using a mobile app at select parking locations. Elsewhere in Ontario, GO Transit and the town of Milton are joining forces to initiate a pilot project that will offer door-to-door bus service to commuters who can’t find parking spots at the overcrowded train station.

READ MORE: Twitter account exposes bad Edmonton parkers

“The overarching message here is that private companies are using technology to bring the parking industry into the 21st century. We’re certainly one of them,” added Enchin.

SOUND OFF: Do you have a parking horror story? Share it with us in the comments section below.

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With files from David Shum, Global News

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