Edmonton won't charge for parking at city attractions after all: Monday decision

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City council voted unanimously on Monday to not introduce paid parking at five sites in Edmonton.

The city was considering implementing paid parking at Emily Murphy Park, Rafter’s Landing, Muttart Conservatory, Fort Edmonton Park, and TELUS World of Science in spring 2022.

Negative financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession prompted city administration to make the suggestion — as well as others to improve Edmonton's fiscal outlook in what is called the Reimagine Services project

Administration proposed implementing a two-hour grace period in which parking would be free at parks located in the river valley and not associated with an attraction. 

A business case prepared by an external consultant for city council suggested implementing a $1-to-$2 hourly rate after the grace-free period at parks on weekends and a $5-to-$7 daily rate at Rafter’s Landing. For parking at attractions, the report suggested charging a daily rate of $5 to $7.

According to that business case, charging for parking at those five sites could generate between $81,000 and $2.01 million in revenue for the city over five years, depending on the chosen pricing scheme.

For Iveson, charging for parking would not be a major revenue generator but a way to ensure parking spot turnover.

“It’s actually about making sure that people aren’t parking at a park and then walking into work, walking into an LRT or bus station, or something like that,” Iveson said at a media availability Monday. “There’s legitimate parking management issues that aren’t even so much about revenue generation.”

During the council meeting, many councillors argued that introducing paid parking should require more public consultation.

Coun. Bev Esslinger said the Telus World of Science told her it was surprised when paid parking was initially brought forward, especially since many attractions are reopening after COVID-19 closures.

“I really have heard a lot from different partners on this and some may be open to various parts of it,” she added. “I think if we had some good public engagement we could work with all parties to ensure we were on the right path forward.”

Many councillors expressed hesitation about the proposal since the city is planning a major parking overhaul through the Parking Action Plan, scheduled to start in 2022.

In the end, council decided to strike paid parking from the Reimagine Services project.

The remainder of the 17 recommendations will be decided either Monday evening or at council’s next meeting on Wednesday.