Edmonton "Open Option Parking" (parking minimums abolition)
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Brief summary of this reform
Edmonton City Council adopted "Open Option Parking", which means that minimum on-site parking requirements have been removed from Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw.
Developers, homeowners and businesses can now decide how much on-site parking to provide.
Why should you care?
This is a striking case of wholesale abolition of parking minimums across a whole car-dependent city.
The framing of the reform as "Open Option Parking" is noteworthy and may be worth emulating. Campaigners for a similar reform in Vancouver in Canada are already running with this framing.
It is also unusual in that the City of Edmonton with about 930,000 people accounts for a very large proportion of the metropolitan area of 1.3 million people. This reform therefore applies to most of the metropolitan area, including large areas that are car-dependent suburbia.
Key actor type
City of Edmonton
Edmonton City Council and its Urban Planning Committee (UPC)
Is it a model or a warning?
Main parking category
Main parking paradigm shift
Promotes all three Adaptive Parking paradigm shifts
Adaptive Parking thrust
R: Relax about parking supply and stop boosting it
Goals of the reform
According to https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/comprehensive-parking-review.aspx:
"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...
* Removing an economic barrier to new businesses and more diverse, affordable housing options. ...
* Supporting more diverse transportation options and climate resilience. ...
* Enabling opportunities for businesses and homeowners to share parking or lease out space to nearby properties. ..."
Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)
A coalition of advocates on various related issues successfully campaigned for this change by highlighting the costs of the status quo, the opportunities of change and the low risks of change.
An important part of this was emphasizing that removing minimums did not mean getting rid of parking; it just meant letting the market decide the right amount of parking (see https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/11/19/parking-minimums-video).
A multi-step process of study, investigation and consultation occurred between 2018 and 2020 before the final decision.
Detailed description of the reform
"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."
Source: Parking Rules for New Homes and Businesses, https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/comprehensive-parking-review.aspx
Results or impacts
This reform is recent. Change will emerge incrementally. It will be interesting to see the results.
"The City will monitor the impacts of shared parking and report back to City Council in early 2021."
Sources and acknowledgements
Parking Rules for New Homes and Businesses, https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/comprehensive-parking-review.aspx
Strong Towns, November 24, 2020, Ending Parking Minimums: How to Make the Case with Facts and Options, https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/11/19/parking-minimums-video
Caley Ramsay, June 24, 2020, Edmonton removes minimum parking requirements city-wide, Global News, https://globalnews.ca/news/7101796/edmonton-removes-minimum-parking-requirements/
13 Mar 2021