Edmonton City Council has unanimously voted to remove minimum parking requirements city-wide.
Beginning on July 2, developers, homeowners and businesses will be able to decide how much on-site parking to provide on their properties, rather than being required to provide a certain number of stalls as was the previous policy.
“I am really proud of the fact that our city council and our community is the first Canadian city to substantially cut red tape by removing parking minimums from our zoning bylaw,” Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday.
“We are leading the way in passing a policy that contributes to changing the way our city will grow from here and what long-term sustainability looks like here in Edmonton.”
Council voted on the bylaw change on Tuesday, making Edmonton the first major Canadian municipality to do away with parking minimums, according to the city. The goal has been to make Edmonton more compact, transit-oriented and walkable.
“Parking is a powerful, but often hidden force that shapes how our communities are designed, and influences every aspect of how people live, work and move around,” said Kim Petrin, development services branch manager with the City of Edmonton.
“Eliminating parking minimums delivers significant long-term benefits for Edmonton. It removes economic barriers to new homes and businesses and improves choice and flexibility in how businesses and homeowners meet their parking needs. It also supports more diverse transportation options and climate resilience, and moves us closer to achieving the vibrant, walkable and compact city we heard Edmontonians want.”
On-site parking can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $60,000 per stall, a cost that is passed down to the rent or mortgage payers, or paid for in goods bought and services used.
The high cost of on-site parking has also created significant economic barriers to affordable housing development and the ability for new businesses to open in Edmonton, the city said in a media release Tuesday night.
“Eliminating parking minimums paves the way for more diverse, affordable housing choices, and walkable main street shopping areas and local amenities, such as neighbourhood coffee shops,” the city release stated.
The change will be gradual, as the new rules will only come into effect as homes and businesses are developed or developed across the city in the years ahead.
“Edmonton has a long history of allocating a disproportionate amount of space to parking amenities. This has led to a greater than 50 per cent oversupply of on-site parking city-wide, which will not disappear overnight,” the city said.
The new rules also allow businesses and homeowners to share parking or least out space to nearby properties. The city said this will allow for more efficient use of Edmonton’s existing oversupply of on-site parking.
“Allowing developments to share parking can also help ease potential on-street parking pressure in situations where an area may be experiencing a high rate of redevelopment,” the city said.
Petrin recognized that the new policy may lead to instances where a development will under-provide parking, which may cause an increase in on-street parking in nearby neighbourhoods. She said the city will work with neighbourhoods to find solutions.
“This happened under the old rules as well,” Petrin said.
“In these instances we will continue to work with neighbourhoods as we do now using tools such as paid parking, restricted parking or residential parking programs to manage on-street parking where needed.”
When asked if the city could see new EPark zones in areas where they aren’t traditionally located, Petrin said “that’s definitely one of the tools we can use to address the issue.”
Accessible parking will continue to be provided and bicycle parking requirements have increased under the new rules.
Maximum parking requirements have been retained downtown and expanded in Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and main street areas. Design requirements for both surface and underground parking facilities have also been enhanced.
A review of the city’s overall parking principles is underway, Petrin said, and a report on the work will be presented to the city’s Urban Planning Committee in early 2021.