Free parking likely to become more difficult to find in Mississauga

Drivers in Mississauga might have to get used to the idea of paying more to park their vehicle.  

City Hall is getting set to make changes to its parking policies by drawing up a so-called Master Plan.

The city is looking for public feedback on how residents and businesses want parking to be managed in a municipality that is one of the fastest-growing in Canada.  

It is not yet clear whether or not free parking spots will start disappearing in Mississauga, but city officials have been stressing the public cost of offering the use of that space without charge -- an estimated $35,000 to $70,000, depending on the location. 

Transportation planning consultant Martin Collier of Transport Futures says cities all over the GTA face challenges similar to those of Mississauga, as they try to change habits and perceptions surrounding parking.  

"We're just used to having free parking," says Collier.

"We have to be part of the solution ... we can't just complain."  

Collier says as cities become more populated and neighbourhoods become more densely packed, the land becomes worth too much to give away parking space for free.  

He adds those tax dollars that are too valuable for cities to sacrifice as they look to build infrastructure.  

Collier points out that free parking can also be a barrier to expanding public transit systems because it gives commuters less incentive for them to leave their vehicle at home.  

He says a "competitively priced" parking rate structure can help convince drivers to buy a transit fare instead.  

As traffic congestion grows with Mississauga's skyscrapers, it is no stretch to suggest the space available for parking will shrink in the future.  

That's why city hall wants to plan ahead.  

Roughly 15 percent of all land in Mississauga is covered by parking spots.  

There's far more space for parking, if you include the surface are covered by driveways and streets.