August 28, 2018 9:17 am
Updated: August 29, 2018 12:51 pm

Ottawa real-time traffic map shows parking spots up for grabs in 5 lots

The map can also give users real-time updates on road construction sites, traffic incidents and traffic changes due to special events.

The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon

It’s no secret that finding an empty parking spot can sometimes be a rough ride in downtown Ottawa – but the city’s online traffic map can now let you know in real time what your prospects are like in its five parkades.

Before arriving and checking the signs at the entrances, an individual can search the map to see how many parking spaces, including accessible spots, are up for grabs in the two garages in the ByWard Market, the two in Centretown and the one in the Glebe.

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The data the online map draws on is collected through sensors the municipality installed above each of the spaces in those five garages over the last three years. Because the city’s 11 other surface lots don’t have those sensors, that real-time information isn’t available for those parking spots – just their total capacities.

Scott Caldwell, Transitway and parking area manager at the city of Ottawa, said expanding the real-time parking data to the other lots is something the city is looking into.

“It’s a different endeavour to try and track that in a surface lot where [the] ability to attach sensors to the roof obviously isn’t there,” Caldwell said in a phone interview on Monday. “I personally would like to get there just for the benefits for the public but also in terms of the data and how that helps to facilitate the management of the facilities.”

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The map doesn’t appear to track real-time availability specifically for motorcycle and electric vehicle spaces in the Gloucester Street and Glebe parkades.

The municipal parkade on Gloucester was the last to be equipped with the sensors and its data “came online” this past spring, Caldwell said. (The sensors shine green or red depending whether the space is available or taken, respectively.)

He said the city introduced the real-time parking data from the five garages into its online traffic map – launched several years ago – sometime last week.

“We’ve been gradually working towards getting this out into the public someway, somehow,” Caldwell said.

The traffic map isn’t super mobile-friendly, however, and might be best suited for desktop use. Asked whether the city might ever create a mobile app to make the data more accessible to smartphone users, Caldwell said the “most likely next step” is to make the numbers available on Open Data.

“To start developing an app on our own is one option but getting the data out there and allowing that to happen organically is another option that’s available,” Caldwell said. “That’s kind of the way we’re likely heading right now.”

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The online map also allows a user to access real-time footage recorded by the municipal traffic cameras, as well as the locations of park and rides, red-light cameras and variable messaging boards across the city.

The map can also give users real-time updates on road construction sites, traffic incidents and traffic changes due to special events.

By the numbers :

ByWard Market Garage, 70 Clarence Street

  • Total parking spots: 289
  • Accessible spaces: 6

Dalhousie Garage, 141 Clarence Street

  • Total parking spots: 461
  • Accessible spaces: 6

City Hall Garage, 110 Laurier Avenue West

  • Total parking spots: 850
  • Accessible spaces: 12

Gloucester Garage, 212 Gloucester Street

  • Total parking spots: 213
  • Accessible spaces: 5
  • Motorcycle spaces: 5

Glebe Garage, 170 Second Avenue

  • Total parking spots: 146
  • Accessible spaces: 7
  • Motorcycle spaces: 6
  • Electric vehicle spaces: 2

Source: City of Ottawa parking webpage and interactive traffic map

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