Edmontonians welcome city decision to hit pause on proposed residential parking program

The city's original residential parking permit program remains in effect as councillors voted to pause the new changes to the program until a review is conducted by city administration.  (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)
The city's original residential parking permit program remains in effect as councillors voted to pause the new changes to the program until a review is conducted by city administration. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

Edmonton residents concerned about major changes to the city's residential parking permit program — including the introduction of $120 in annual fees in some neighbourhoods — are pleased that the controversial program has been put on hold.

The program, approved in March, was to have gone into effect June 1. It 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.

But because the city was receiving complaints and pushback, the program didn't start as planned. On June 18, council's urban planning committee recommended that the program be paused. It will be up for discussion again at city council on Wednesday.

Everett Griffiths, a resident of Garneau who has been part of the residential parking program for decades, expressed frustration that under the new program, he would have to pay $120 a year for street parking near his home.

"While the parking system is not without its faults, I'd really like to know what is the sudden decision to charge certain areas," Griffiths said in an interview.

"I assume that there's costs with running the program, but I'd really like to know what brought it about."

Griffiths added that he is not opposed to a fee if it's equitable and makes sense. "But this approach seems rushed and poorly thought-out," he said.

The pause is good, he said. "Whether it's going to achieve anything, I'm not a real optimist on that."

Finbarr Timbers, who lives in McKernan, expressed concerns around the extension of hours. Under the new program, a permit would be valid until 9 p.m. whereas the original program ended at 6 p.m.

"We've never had a problem finding parking for our visitors or for ourselves after 6 p.m., which is when the current program goes [until]. So I don't know why they're extending the hours," he said.

Original program started in '70s

[The residential parking permit program was started in 1978, driven by requests from neighbourhoods and a perceived need for parking by residents, according to the city. Proposed changes were introduced in August 2022.

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 — McKernan, Belgravia, Garneau, around NAIT, Windsor Park and surrounding Commonwealth Stadium.

"As Edmonton grows to a city of two million people, there is a need to evolve and adjust how we approach the demands on our transportation system which includes redefining curbside space," Derek Logan, communications adviser for city operations, wrote in an email to CBC.

Anne Stevenson, councillor for Ward O-day'min, who proposed the pause at the urban planning committee, said she heard a variety of concerns about the changes.

"Rossdale neighborhood, for example, was being proposed to be removed from the program and there were concerns there, just around the baseball diamond and also people parking and then walking downtown," Stevenson said in an interview.

Residents who live near NAIT told her they were concerned about the cost of the permits and want to see more parking enforcement, she said.

For now, the original parking program, which was set to expire on May 31, remains in effect. Residents are asked to continue displaying their 2022 and 2023 parking permits in their cars.

While the program is to be discussed at Wednesday's council meeting, Stevenson doesn't think a decision will be made right away.

"What's most important is that we provide enough time for those conversations to happen for there to be some back and forth to refine with the neighbourhoods," she said.

LISTEN | Edmonton residents pushed back against paying for residential parking: