Edmonton to scrap 15 free residential parking permit areas, adds rules for downtown lots

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Some Edmonton drivers accustomed to parking for free in front of their homes will soon no longer have a guaranteed spot.

Edmonton is getting rid of 15 residential parking permit zones this year which restricted parking on some streets to residents of single-family homes and small apartment buildings. Restricted parking signs will start coming down in various areas in May, phased over the summer before the new school year begins.

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Four zones will remain — although somewhat smaller — around Commonwealth Stadium, in Garneau, around NAIT, and in Windsor Park.

But residents who want a permit will need to pay $10 a month beginning in September, and $120 for a full year starting in 2025. Parking hours will be similar to other EPark stalls.

Members of Edmonton city council accepted plans by administration at an urban planning committee meeting Tuesday — but Mayor Amarjeet Sohi was opposed.

Coun. Anne Stevenson said the current permit program hasn’t been reviewed since the 1970s, and this will create better parking availability for visitors.

“Folks who maybe have guests coming over for dinner, have home care, that provides a lot more flexibility and helps address some of the challenges this program presents,” she told reporters Tuesday.

“This ensures that everyone is making those tradeoffs, that if they are choosing not to build a garage or have parking on their property, they need to recognize they may not necessarily be guaranteed a space on the street. It’s about ensuring we’re managing those shared assets for everyone’s use and benefit.”

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Only neighbourhoods with high volumes of traffic connected to having a large post-secondary institution, major event venue or active LRT station nearby, are eligible for the new program.

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Sohi is not in favour of the changes, saying during the meeting it’s bad timing for Edmontonians struggling with the cost of living.

“Any fees that we increase, even if they are localized, will have an impact on low-income Edmontonians and students’ ability to pay. That is my biggest concern,” he told reporters.

“That’s why I think at a time when people are struggling with affordability, this is not the right approach to take.”

City administration made these recommendations after reviewing what’s being done in other big cities in Canada and North America, said Craig McEwan, branch manager for parks and roads.

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“It’s public space, it’s public roads. We’re not looking to create a quasi-gated neighbourhood by having only residents park in certain areas,” he said during the meeting.

Crackdown on illegal parking lots

Meanwhile, the committee also unanimously passed a motion to regulate more than 100 illegal surface parking lots in the city’s core and dedicate more resources toward enforcement so property owners will comply.

Property owners will need to upgrade the sites with a list of changes such as lighting, landscaping, pathways and paving the lots.

Currently, 113 parking lots owned by 96 landowners Downtown and the surrounding area are illegal, the staff report states. Only 16 are allowed.

The plan will allow property owners to apply for a temporary development permit, and business licence, in exchange for upgrading the site. If they don’t comply, property owners could face fines for violating zoning bylaws from $1,000 to $10,000, and for breaking business licence bylaws from $500 to $10,000. The city can also charge property owners for any upgrades the municipality has to pay for if they don’t comply.

Enforcement, however, would be gradual.

After the city updates zoning rules for these lots, property owners would get a violation notice. A development officer would then start taking action, beginning with education and moving to enforcement if they do not comply — a process that could take up to two years.

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