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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 rates comparable to today 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.

Benefits of Open Option Parking

Designing our city around parking amenities instead of people has resulted in wasted space and wasted 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 draft 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 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Edmonton and is responsible for more than 40 per cent 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 per cent 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 draft City Plan

Click on the dots in the infographic below to learn more.

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Parking Regulation Options

There are  3 main ways to regulate the amount of on-site parking provided with new homes and businesses. As explained below, each of these approaches influences the way our city looks and how we get around.

Minimum Parking Requirements

Minimum parking requirements Graphic

The City determines a set number of spaces that must be provided.

  • Lots of parking spaces are provided
  • Supports driving but can limit walking as large parking lots can take up a lot of space, making neighbourhoods more spread out
  • Homeowners and businesses have less choice
Open Option Parking

Open Parking Option GraphicBusinesses and homeowners can choose the amount of parking they provide.

  • A range of parking spaces can be provided
  • Supports both driving and walking
  • Homeowners and businesses have more choice
     
Maximum parking requirements

Maximum Parking Requirements Graphic

The City sets a limit on the number of parking spaces that can be provided

  • A restricted number of parking spaces are provided
  • Supports walking but can limit driving
  • Homeowners and businesses have less choice
     

Assessment of Options

To understand which approach to regulating on-site parking (minimum parking requirements, Open Option Parking or maximum parking requirements) would be best for Edmonton, the City conducted two studies:

  • A survey to better understand Edmontonians’ perspectives and preferences related to parking
  • A technical study that looked at how existing parking spaces in Edmonton are being used

Public Engagement

Extensive public engagement on parking preferences and priorities and their associated trade-offs were also used to inform the changes.

Public Engagement Activities, History and Reports

Project History

The review was undertaken in four phases.

Phase 4

City Council Decision (Summer 2020)

On January 28, 2020, City Council directed Administration to proceed with the preparation of Zoning Bylaw changes to enable Open Option Parking in one step across the city. Open Option Parking removes minimum parking requirements from the Zoning Bylaw and allows homeowners and businesses to decide how much on-site parking to provide on their properties based on their particular operations, activities or lifestyle.

These changes were approved by City Council at the June 23, 2020 Public Hearing (item 3.22) and come into effect on July 2, 2020. Edmontonians and stakeholders were given a final opportunity to express their opinions about the proposed changes directly with members of Council by registering to speak at the Public Hearing.

Overview of proposed changes
Highlights of the proposed changes include, but are not limited, to:

  • Removing minimum parking requirements from the Zoning Bylaw
  • Retaining parking maximums downtown and expanding existing maximums in Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and main street areas
  • Enabling shared parking between sites
  • Retaining barrier free (accessible) parking requirements at rates comparable to today
  • Expanding bicycle parking requirements
  • Enhancing design requirements for parking facilities

The changes to on-site parking for homes and businesses will happen gradually over time as new buildings are built and properties in the city are redeveloped. The City will monitor the impacts of shared parking and report back to Council in early 2021.

 

Phase 3

Phase 3 
Urban Planning Committee (Spring 2019 and Winter 2020)

City Administration presented a report to the May 7, 2019 Urban Planning Committee outlining options for regulating on-site parking, and the results of the research and public input on each of these options.

At that meeting, Committee directed administration to advance the implementation of Open Option Parking (where homeowners and businesses can decide how much on-site parking to provide), as well as the opportunities identified in Attachment 6 of the report to improve the current on-site parking regulatory structure. These changes included, but were not limited to, introducing the ability for businesses and homes to share on-site parking spaces and improving the design requirements for parking lots.

Committee also directed Administration to return with a report that provided:

  • Implementation scenarios that consider a one-step and/or phased approach to changing the on-site parking regulations
  • A comprehensive review of the on-street parking implications of changing on-site parking rules, and
  • Further research on predictors of parking demand

This report was presented to Urban Planning Committee on January 28, 2020 (items 6.2 and 6.3). Committee directed Administration to bring Zoning Bylaw amendments for Scenario One (Full one-step implementation of Open Option Parking), to the June 23, 2020 City Council Public Hearing (Phase 4). 

Phase 2

Phase 2
Phase 2A - Parking Trade Offs & Outcomes (Fall 2018)

When it comes to parking, there are often trade-offs between the amount of available parking, the cost of homes and businesses, and the ability to walk to destinations in your neighbourhood.

Edmontonians had an opportunity to provide input on these trade-offs through a series of focus groups, an online survey, and pop-up events.  Feedback received was used to help inform different options for regulating how much on-site parking is provided with new homes and businesses.

A technical study looking at how existing parking in Edmonton is currently used was also completed as part of Phase 1.

View the public engagement results and technical study.

Phase 2B - Draft Regulation Options (Winter 2019)

The technical studies, policy, best practice research, and public input on parking priorities and tradeoffs from Phase 2A informed a draft recommendation report released in February 2019 outlining three different options for regulating on-site parking. Edmontonians had the chance to provide input on the draft report through an online survey, which was summarized in a What We Heard report.

Based on the feedback, City Administration made revisions to the draft report.  The revised report was presented at the May 7, 2019 Urban Planning Committee meeting (Phase 3).

Phase 1

Phase 1
Collecting and Analyzing Data (Winter - Summer  2018)

To ensure that any changes to on-site parking required for new homes and businesses were made using an evidence-based and data-driven approach, the City conducted extensive research. 
 
This research included: 

  • Conducting a technical study on how existing on-site parking for homes and businesses in Edmonton is being used
  • Analyzing how that usage aligns with current City policy and parking needs
  • Reviewing parking best practices and academic research
  • Researching the experience and policies of other municipalities

View the parking supply and demand study results.

For More Information

James Veltkamp

Title Planner, Zoning Bylaw
Telephone

780-944-0222

Email james.veltkamp@edmonton.ca

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