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Calgary demand-based parking price setting

When you use this in your parking change-making efforts, please give credit to Parking Reform Atlas and/or its sources.


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Brief summary of this reform

Calgary sets the prices for its on-street parking in commercial areas based on demand. Annual occupancy reviews determine if prices rise, drop or remain the same for each of 27 pricing areas and four time-periods in the day.

Therefore prices now vary according to both location and time-of-day.

Why should you care?

This is a relatively simple but effective version of demand-based parking price setting, as recommended by Donald Shoup.

It is noteworthy for having time-of-day price variations and not just variations by location.

Price adjustments under this system seem not to have been controversial since the system was implemented in 2014.



Vehicle type




Key actor type

Local government


City of Calgary

Primary motivation

orderly parking (usually for wider benefits too)

Agencies involved

City Council and the Calgary Parking Authority

Is it a model or a warning?

useful model

Reform type

Main parking category

Main parking paradigm shift


On-street in mainly commercial streets

Towards more responsiveness to context/market

Adaptive Parking thrust

Implementation status

Year adopted

P: Price parking in the right ways and with the right rates for each place and time



Goals of the reform

According to Calgary Parking Authority, "Demand based pricing helps ensure on-street parking is managed in a more consistent, transparent, fair and equitable manner."

Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)

I don't know exactly what prompted this reform, although it is clear that San Francisco's SFPark trial was an influence.

Detailed description of the reform

In May 2013, City Council adopted on-street parking pricing based on demand.

Paid parking is divided into 27 pricing areas (which are often about 500 metres or less across). There are also four pricing periods on weekdays.

Starting in January 2014, on-street rates in each pricing area and for each pricing period are reviewed annually.

The review uses ParkPlus System parking payments data to estimate occupancy rates.

In areas where occupancy is below 50%, prices will decrease by $0.25;
In areas where occupancy is above 80%, prices will increase by $0.25;
In areas where occupancy is between 50-80%, prices will stay the same.

Therefore prices now vary according to both location and time-of-day.

This reform was made easier by a 2007 modernization of the parking payments system (under the ParkPlus brand), replacing single-space meters with block-by-block pay stations, phone-based payment options and car-mounted license plate readers for enforcement among other things.

Results or impacts

I am not aware of reports on the effects or impacts of this reform in Calgary. If you know of any, please get in touch.

Sources and acknowledgements

Painted Greek Island

Last updated: 

11 Mar 2021

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