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City of Edmonton considering widespread changes to public parking

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A new curbside management strategy will be going to Edmonton city councillors later this month that could fundamentally change parking city-wide. Breanna Karstens-Smith has the details – Aug 12, 2022

A new curbside management strategy will be going to Edmonton city councillors later this month that could fundamentally change parking city-wide.

The changes could include higher parking fees and less time allowed in certain curbside parking locations.

The report says the strategy would be in line with The City Plan which was passed in 2020 as a way to guide Edmonton’s growth to two million people.

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“The City Plan identifies Big City Moves with targets that include net-zero per person greenhouse gas emissions, 50 per cent new growth added as infill, and 50 per cent of trips made by transit or active transportation,” the report reads.

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“To achieve this vision, we will need to evolve and adjust how we approach emerging transportation demands and opportunities.”

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Old Strathcona could see several of the proposed changes. Ward papastew councilor Michael Janz admits people want convenience.

“All of us want the most convenient parking possible,” he said.

“We want to be able to park not only directly in front of, but maybe even inside of the business that we want to visit.”

Janz added many residents in his southside area have expressed frustrations about not being able to park in front of their homes or having members of the public park in front of or on their driveway.

The general supervisor of mobility with the city’s urban strategies area, Pablo Orozco, says the city wants to change how people see curbside parking.

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“I think that’s what most people think about when they think of the curbside, which is that space between the sidewalk and regular traffic, that it’s for parking,” Orozco told Global News.

“But it’s also used for many other things like patios, food trucks, events, loading and unloading active lanes.”

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7 actions to change curbside parking in Edmonton

The report lays out seven potential actions to work towards that goal.

The first would be to review the current public curbside spaces. The strategy says currently, much of the spots are used for private vehicle parking — which limits alternatives uses for the space.

Some of those spaces could be changed to loading zones, more accessible parking stalls, dedicated bike lanes, temporary patios for restaurants and cafes, parklets, public mobile washrooms, vehicle-for-hire spots and more.

The second action would see a review and update to public parking pricing. The goal, the strategy says, would be to make it easier to find a parking space by improving the availability.

“In areas of higher parking demand, this is accomplished through more frequent parking space turnover as a result of parking pricing,” the strategy reads.

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Pricing could fluctuate based on demand.

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Action three would see an update to the current residential parking program. That was last updated in 1998.

Details like the number of parking permits issued per household would be reviewed.

In action four, technology would be used more to help drivers find available parking easier.

There could also be improvements made to the EPark app, which allows people to pay for street parking from their phone.

Technology would also be used to connect driving and transit more, helping people find parking close to bus or LRT routes.

“How do we do a better job of signposting and wayfinding,” Janz suggested as a key focus.

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“Because there are parking lots, there are empty parking lots just a couple blocks away from us but often visitors don’t know about them.”

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Automated parking enforcement is also mentioned in the report as a possibility.

Action five would see the introduction of “parking benefit districts.”

Revenue from parking fees would go back to the area where the fees is being charged. For example, if paid parking is introduced on a residential road with curbside parking, the fee would go to street improvements like fixing sidewalks or adding trees.

“We’ve seen through research that when people see that benefit of those fees that they’re paying as tangible, they’re actually more inclined to accept that payment,” Orozco explained.

Accessible parking would be the focus of action six.

The city would look at adding more designated accessible curbside parking spots for those with disabilities.

To make the spots more recognizable, the city would consider painting the accessible spaces so that they were clearly marked.

The final proposal, action seven, would see more integration with the city’s bike plan.

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In an effort to shift away from private vehicle use, amenities like safe bike storage, personal lockers, showers and washrooms could be added to transportation networks.

Those could be added to curbside spots in the form of mobile washroom facilities or the city could encourage private developments near transportation routes to offer such services.

“We’ve seen that people will take the bus — whether it’s to Heritage Festival, whether it’s Folk Fest — we just need to make these opportunities a little easier to experience,” said Janz.

Read more: New parking restriction program in west Edmonton causes community controversy

Orozco insists the strategy is not an attempt to decrease the number of parking spots in the city.

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“Sometimes you have a space for parking, but it might just be used by one person,” he said as an example.

“If we look at it differently and we get that to turn over a lot quicker, a lot more people can use it.

The strategy will be presented to councillors at the Urban Planning Committee on Aug. 23. The public is invited to share its thoughts at that meeting.

If that committee approves that strategy, it will go to council for approval before city staff start implementing the ideas.

Full implementation could take between five and seven years.

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