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City council rejects proposal to charge Edmontonians for parking at city attractions

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city council votes against parking fee at attractions and parks' Edmonton city council votes against parking fee at attractions and parks
WATCH ABOVE: On Monday, Edmonton city council voted against the controversial idea of charging parking fees at city attractions and parks. Sarah Ryan reports. – Jul 5, 2021

A proposal to charge Edmontonians to park at certain city attractions and parks was unanimously rejected by city councillors on Monday.

The idea was pitched through the city’s Reimagine Services review which tasked city administrators with trying to find ways to generate additional revenue for city coffers while also cutting spending in response to the city’s strained financial position.

READ MORE: Proposal to charge for parking at Edmonton parks, attractions prompts pushback 

The parking fees were discussed for several hours by council Monday afternoon.

“This was a financial recommendation, but I think public engagement on our policy would be important,” Coun. Bev Esslinger said while bringing forward a motion to axe the idea. “Many are concerned, ‘Why two hours (and) not three hours?’ Some of the letters I’ve gotten… (said), ‘My family won’t be able to go. We usually go on Sunday for six hours. If we have paid parking at Telus World of Science, I won’t be able to afford to go.'”

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Last month, city manager Andre Corbould acknowledged that “these tradeoffs (in the plan) are not simple.”

“Parking revenues realized within the Reimagine Services totals $1.7 million over five years, growing after the initial investment of equipment to $400,000 per year,” he said at the time.

READ MORE: Edmontonians share concerns with cost-saving plan for city services 

The Reimagine Services review noted that “paid parking exists in comparable sites in other cities.”

The proposed paid parking pilot project included an option for free parking for the first two hours visitors spent at any site where fees would have been applicable.

Had the paid parking proposal moved forward, it would have impacted people who visit Emily Murphy Park, Rafter’s Landing, Muttart Conservatory, Fort Edmonton Park and Telus World of Science beginning in spring 2022.

The proposal would have also affected Hawrelak Park in 2026 after improvements are made to the site.

–With files from Global News’ Sarah Ryan and Emily Mertz

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