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Edmonton considering reducing minimum parking requirements

Funny no parking sign
Would you shop at a business with no parking?

The City of Edmonton is about to review parking requirements and there’s a possibility there will eventually be no minimum parking requirements, at least for businesses.

It’s about time. While minimum parking requirements might be needed in residential neighbourhoods, to ensure roads aren’t overcrowded with parked cars, I don’t think they make much sense when dealing with retail and commercial spaces.

“Some people said very clearly it’s a business decision,” Stevenson said. “If a business thinks they can survive without parking, all the power to them. Many people said I wouldn’t go to that business but if they think they can make a go of it, we fully support it. That’s a really big step from where we are now, but it is a way some cities are choosing to deal with minimum parking requirements.

I agree. If a business thinks its customers don’t care about access to parking, they should be able to open in a location with little or no parking. If the end result is that the business fails, because Edmontonians really are as car-obsessed as everyone thinks, so be it.

I’m skeptical the City will actually go as far as eliminating parking requirements, but even reducing them would be a great start. Some businesses, in some areas, really don’t need a minimum number of parking stalls. Bars are a great example.

Why on earth do we have minimum parking requirements for drinking establishments? If we’re serious about trying to reduce instances of drunk driving, making it super easy to drive to and park at a bar — by literally requiring a minimum number of places to put cars — is insane. Luckily, the City seems to be looking seriously at the idea of reducing the parking requirements for eating and drinking establishments.

Neighbourhood convenience stores are another good example. Most of the customers for these stores live within short walking distance and don’t bother to drive to get there. I think of the corner store in my area. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a single vehicle in the parking lot at any given time (and I suspect that belongs to the business owner). Essentially no one drives to this business, yet they’re still required to have a parking lot out front. It makes no sense.

I admit, of course, that my example is purely ancedotal, and there are certainly examples of convenience stores that require ample parking. But, again, I think it should be a business decision. If you think you’ll need a lot of parking, choose your location accordingly. If you think you can run a profitable business without any parking, you should have the option to do so.

What do you think? Should Edmonton ease minimum parking requirements, particularly for businesses? Would you patronize a business that doesn’t have parking?

2 replies on “Edmonton considering reducing minimum parking requirements”

I actually have no idea what current parking regulations are, nevertheless I charge forward with my opinions.

In my neighborhood, Oliver, the idea that every establishment needs enough parking for all of its customers is insane. There are quite a few businesses in my area that rely almost exclusively on foot traffic, foot traffic from all the apartment dwellers around here. Perhaps parking requirements should be based on the neighborhood, neighborhoods with higher-density don’t require as much parking.

This seems like a rational, but potentially very complicated way of managing things. I imagine we’d end up with lots of weird edge cases, like a business needing to have a ton of parking, because they’re on the wrong side of the street and technically located in a less dense neighbourhood than if they were able to get a space on the other side of the street. A business in Queen Mary Park, for example, would probably require more parking spaces than one in Oliver, even though the southern fringes of QMP are about the same density as Oliver and likely see a lot of foot traffic from people living in Oliver.

Maybe I’m overthinking it, though, since we already have a number of neighbourhoods that are exempt from the usual parking requirements (Old Strathcona, for example, at least along Whyte Ave) and this kind of hypothetical edge-case doesn’t appear to be a big issue in those areas.

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