City seeks input on Edmonton’s parking policy around new businesses, homes

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WATCH ABOVE: The city says its parking rules are out of date; many haven't been changed since the 1970s. Kendra Slugoski has more on what that could mean for new homes and businesses – Feb 18, 2019

The City of Edmonton is asking the public to weigh in on how much on-site parking should be available at new homes and businesses.

Over the past year, the city has been reviewing the rules for how many parking spaces must be provided with new homes and businesses. Should a minimum or maximum number of stalls be required? Or should that decision be left up to the individual businesses?

READ MORE: City review of parking requirements might mean no guidelines at all

Many of the city’s current zoning rules were put in place back in the 1970s. Since Edmonton has changed considerably over the years, the city said the rules need to be updated to make sure they make sense for the city today and moving forward.

“The point of it is to ask folks what we need to change in terms of parking minimums,” said Ward 10 councillor Michael Walters.

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“I think there is one camp in Edmonton who thinks there is too much space in our city taken up for parking,” Walters said, “but there’s also a significant constituency of people who drive. I walk and drive so I have one foot in both of those worlds, personally.”

With a push to make Edmonton a more walkable, transit-oriented city, the point of the survey is to find out the parking priorities and preferences of Edmontonians. The city wants to hear the public’s opinion on how to best balance the trade-offs between available parking, the cost of homes and businesses and the ability for people to walk to destinations in their neighbourhoods.

READ MORE: Making Edmonton more ‘walkable,’ one app at a time

The city said there are three main ways to regulate the amount of on-site parking provided:

  • Minimum parking requirements: The city determines a set number of spaces that must be provided
  • Open parking: Businesses and homeowners can choose the amount of parking they provide
  • Maximum parking requirements: The city sets a limit on the number of parking spaces that can be provided

“Business owners are mixed on this issue as well, on whether they want more space for patios and less parking requirements,” Walters said.

“Ultimately we’re going to have to make a tough decision if in fact we decide to lower the minimums.”

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The owner of Remedy Café said he’s heard complaints about the parking — or the lack thereof — around some of his shops, particularly at the locations on Jasper Avenue and 124 Street.

“Always an issue. We struggle always with the parking. My 124 Street has zero parking. People are looking around,” Zee Zaidi said.

“Downtown, we always have a hard time. Where are people going to park? They’re calling us, ‘Where is the parking?’ We don’t have parking. You just park at a meter and the meter is always full, right?”

READ MORE: Parking revenue for downtown Edmonton hasn’t panned out

The café owner was not required to provide customer parking stalls at the Jasper and 124 Street locations. But that wasn’t the case at all of his shops. In Terwillegar, Zaidi had to provide dozens of parking stalls; the same rules applied at his 109 Street location.

Zaidi said he welcomes the discussion around the issue.

“They should ease up on the parking restrictions, yes,” Zaidi said.

“They should charge us a higher tax here, for the city tax, and should give us free parking. We pay that and then people have a peace of mind when they park and come and eat here.”

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The online survey is open until Feb. 24.

City staff have already conducted two studies related to parking in Edmonton. A draft report recommends the open approach to parking. The report will be finalized following the online survey and presented to the city’s Urban Planning Committee in the spring for feedback.

Any changes to Edmonton’s parking rules must be approved by city council at a public hearing before they can come into effect. If new rules are approved, the changes to on-site parking for homes and businesses will happen gradually as new buildings are built and properties are redeveloped, the city said.

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