City councillors on Edmonton’s urban planning committee are adopting a new open concept plan for parking regulations that would see less hands-on guidelines set by the city, and more market-driven forces called for by business.
By October, after more research has been done on potential conflicts in individual city neighborhoods, Edmonton would be the second city in Canada to eliminate minimum parking requirements for individual properties.
“We do have to have a new plan,” Councillor Aaron Paquette said on Tuesday.
“Maybe something that’s a little less government-controlled, but still has some sort of oversight so that we can ensure that folks aren’t being put out too bad.”
Business has long complained about the cost. Developer Adil Kodian told the committee the cost of mandatory parking is driving up home prices.
“For an acre of building, you’ll need about an acre of parking,” Kodian said. “An acre of land in the suburbs is $1 million an acre, so you’ll need $1 million in parking sitting right there.
“So when you do the math, on a surface site, it’s anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000 a stall.”
Go down a level and it’s $20,000, he said. Dig even deeper and it’s $50,000 a stall.
“Parking is an expense,” agreed Dennis Peck of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. “If it’s not needed, if it’s just provided for the sake of a regulatory requirement, it’s a real good question, why?”
Katy Ingraham, owns a Forest Heights bar called Cartago that has been in the news for a couple of years because parking requirements held things up,. She is finding her deli facing the same fate and said she’s disappointed the committee didn’t jump in right away with a new way of doing business.
“For them to send it back for more data or research, I think that’s a waste of time and I think it’s insulting to the people who have already responded,” Ingraham said.
She told the committee she had to pay for three separate parking surveys as part of the application process for her businesses. She said it was more expensive for that than any equipment she’s bought. She’s hopeful her deli can open in June.
Councillor Mike Nickel said that with this change, Edmonton will become the largest parking operator in the city once on-street parking is factored in. He called the proposal another example of Edmonton being “a war on cars.”
“I used that phrase purposefully,” he said. “That’s what some of my constituents are saying. Council seems to have it in for the automobile, and so let’s just face it. People like to drive and we have to be respectful of that.
“They’re talking about charging you for parking in front of their house — that’s part of the conversation.
“Some people might have another opinion on that,” Nickel said of the prospect of ePark meters being set up to prevent parasitic parking in residential neighborhoods a short walking distance from LRT, shopping or other amenities that draw plenty of visits like hospitals.
The committee will get proposed changes in October. Once they’re set, a public hearing will happen before things are set into law.
Councillor Jon Dziadyk asked about reducing minimum distances from fire hydrants to create more parking spaces on city streets, copying a move that has been made in several other cities. Staff will report back on that in the fall.