A graphic of a city with "Parking. It's all about space" text.

Homeowners and businesses can now choose how much on-site parking to provide on their properties.

Open Option Parking

At the June 23, 2020 City Council Public Hearing (item 3.22), City Council voted to enable Open Option Parking city-wide effective July 2, 2020. Open Option Parking means that minimum on-site parking requirements have been removed from Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw, allowing developers, homeowners and businesses to decide how much on-site parking to provide on their properties based on their particular operations, activities or lifestyle.

Removing parking minimums doesn’t necessarily mean that no parking will be provided. Businesses and homeowners know their parking needs best and have an interest in ensuring they are met, making this approach more likely to result in the “right amount” of parking.

Under the new rules, barrier-free (accessible) parking will continue to be provided at comparable rates to before and bicycle parking requirements have increased. Maximum parking requirements have been retained downtown, and expanded in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and main street areas.

Design requirements for both surface and underground parking facilities have also been enhanced, and opportunities created for businesses and homeowners to share parking or lease out parking spaces to nearby properties. The City will monitor the impacts of shared parking and report back to City Council in early 2021.

While the change will be transformative, it will also be gradual. Only coming into effect as homes and businesses are slowly developed or redeveloped across the city in the decades ahead.

Public Parking Action Plan

At the January 28, 2020 Urban Planning Committee (UPC) meeting on Open Option Parking (item 6.2), City Administration committed to conducting a review of on-street parking management programs and reporting back to UPC. The results of the review and a Public Parking Action Plan to modernize curbside parking management is targeted to go to UPC in 2022. 

Canadian Institute of Planners Award

The Canadian Institute of Planners awarded the City’s Open Option Parking project with an Award for Planning Excellence. “Edmonton’s Open Option Parking strategy can transform the City and inspire other Canadian communities to look at similar changes,” said a statement from the Jurors. “Crowd-sourcing data collection, and the effort to make parking discussions interesting and relevant, were both key factors that stood-out. This project will positively impact the sustainability of Edmonton’s future, while creating a more vibrant livable community.” Learn more about the award.

Benefits of Open Option Parking

Designing our city around parking amenities instead of people has resulted in an oversupply of land dedicated to parking and overlooked business opportunities. Eliminating parking minimums is a practical, fiscally responsible move that delivers significant long-term benefits for Edmonton, including:

  • Improving choice and flexibility in how businesses and homeowners use their properties and meet their parking needs.

  • Moving us closer to achieving the vibrant, walkable and compact city envisioned in ConnectEdmonton and the City Plan. Parking can take up a lot of space, making neighbourhoods more spread out and less walkable. Removing minimums enables more walkable main street shopping areas and local amenities, such as neighbourhood coffee shops, that Edmontonians have told us they want.
  • Removing an economic barrier to new businesses and more diverse, affordable housing options. Parking is expensive, running anywhere from $7,000 to $60,000 per stall. This cost gets passed down in the rent or mortgage Edmontonians pay, goods bought and services used.
  • Supporting more diverse transportation options and climate resilience. Transportation contributes more than 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Edmonton and is responsible for more than 40% of energy use. Open Option Parking helps open the door for the possibility of a less auto-centric future.
  • Enabling opportunities for businesses and homeowners to share parking or lease out space to nearby properties. Edmonton has a long history of allocating a disproportionate amount of space to automobiles, which has led to a greater than 50% oversupply of on-site parking city-wide. Allowing developments to share or lease out parking makes more efficient use of this existing oversupply.

Why We Reviewed the Rules

Parking is a powerful, but often hidden, force that shapes how our communities are designed and influences every aspect of how people live, work, and move around.

Many of the zoning rules that determined the minimum number of on-site parking spaces homes and businesses were required to have were put in place in the 1970s. Edmonton has changed considerably since then, and the rules needed to be updated to make sure they made sense for Edmonton today and the future Edmonton envisioned by ConnectEdmonton and the City Plan

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