Edmonton city council exploring pause to new residential parking program

City councillors said they heard concerns about the new parking program from residents regarding cost and use of curbside parking space. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

City council's urban planning committee is recommending that the new residential parking program be paused for further review.

Council will discuss the recommendation further at a meeting on July 3, the city said in a news release Wednesday.

The new program, which had been set to start rolling out this month, was designed to help manage parking in select neighbourhoods with high on-street parking demand, and further prioritize curbside parking as a public asset for widespread use.

Under changes announced in March, the city had planned to scrap 15 of 19 existing residential permit parking zones — areas where parking is reserved for neighbourhood residents, either around the clock or during major community events.

Permits that had previously been free to residents would cost $120 per year in the neighbourhoods where they would still be required.

The parking program involves a total of 19 neighbourhoods: Belgravia, Belvedere, Boyle Street, Central McDougall, Century Park, Commonwealth Stadium, Garneau, Glengarry, Groat Estates, McKernan, NAIT, Northlands, Parkallen, Rossdale, Royal Gardens, Southgate, South Belgravia, Wîhkwêntôwin (formerly Oliver) and Windsor Park.

Under the changes, only four permit parking zones would remain — in Garneau, around NAIT, Windsor Park and surrounding Commonwealth Stadium — and they would be reduced in size by between eight and 30 per cent.

With a pause possible, the city is asking all residents in the 19 neighbourhoods to continue displaying their 2022 or 2023 permits in their vehicles.

The original parking program, which was to have expired on May 31, will remain in effect pending further direction from council, the city said.

The street parking system was established in 1978 to manage curbside congestion.

City councillors said they heard concerns from residents about the cost of permits and the use of curbside parking space under the modernized program.

Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson put forward a motion for the pause at Tuesday's urban planning committee meeting.

"The program has really mutated and changed and hasn't necessarily been applied in a consistent way. And so city staff started to look at that as part of our curbside management strategy," Stevenson said.

"As our population grows, as a number of businesses grow, we need to be more intentional about how we're managing public assets like curbside parking."

She added: "The question is how we balance the different users, how we manage the spaces to ensure that all Edmontonians have appropriate access."

Ward Métis Coun. Ashley Salvador more consultation with residents is warranted.

There is a need to understand the impact on the community around Commonwealth Stadium, "when it comes to the influx of folks who are parking in the neighborhood when there are ongoing events," Salvador said.

It's also important to understand how major events affect areas around Borden Park and Concordia University of Edmonton, she said.

"Being able to have those more detailed and nuanced conversations with community before making larger changes, I think it's a really critical part of this," Salvador said.

"One of the intentions behind the modernization of the program is to make sure it's data driven as well, to make sure that we have consistent measures and metrics around parking generation and when to keep a program in place."