In June 2020, Edmonton became the first major Canadian city to put an end to mandatory parking minimums. Parking minimums are laws requiring commercial and residential complexes to have a minimum number of off-street parking spaces. It is based on a probable demand for parking resulting from the building’s use. The central concept of parking minimums is to prevent public streets from being overused for parking by private vehicles. In recent times, these mandatory norms have started to catch the attention of developers and planning communities.
Taking Edmonton as an example, many cities and towns across the globe are looking to reform their parking policies and considering the possibility of ending parking minimums altogether.
Parking Minimums: A huge mistake?
The land is a valuable resource, and filling it with empty, unproductive parking spaces gives rise to more problems than solutions. The mandatory parking minimum laws came into effect due to rapid urbanization and a sudden increase in cars with insufficient parking. However, these requirements have restricted walkability in neighborhoods, made homes less affordable, and placed local businesses in a financial crunch.
With respect to residential areas, parking minimums take up spaces that could otherwise be utilized for other purposes. By reducing the total housing supply, housing price goes up and becomes prohibitively expensive for the common folk. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the planning community is becoming increasingly skeptical of parking minimums and wishing for them to be a thing of the past.
Also Read: Why Parking Minimums Impose a High Cost
The real trouble with parking requirements
Usually, parking minimums are set by urban planners to satisfy the high demand for free parking.
What happens is that the price of the parking spot decreases. However, an equivalent or extra cost is added to the cost of development. As a result of which, the prices of all the services and goods sold at these sites increases. It often results in a lot of wasted space and increased costs of housing or doing business in urban areas.
Lessons from Canada
Going back to Edmonton, it is famously known as ‘The Oil Capital of Canada’ with a population touching a million. This city arrived at the conclusion of abolishing parking minimums by prioritizing land use. The idea is to create a more walkable, transit-oriented, and resilient habitat. It is vital to give people a platform to speak and generate a conversation while moving towards a community change.
Ashley Salvador, cofounder of YEGarden Suites, “Private individuals, businesses, and developers will still provide parking, and the City has tools at its disposal to effectively manage on-street demand to ensure parking is reliably available for those who need it.”
Ashley firmly believes that a change is possible by a collaborative effort of residents, planners, developers, nonprofits, and more. Edmonton’s citizens were able to present their perspectives and stories to the city council. Through the involvement of the general public, along with the movement generators like her, the cause was able to move the authorities.
This is how Edmonton became a part of history by leading the way for others to amend their parking laws.
Leaping in this direction will repurpose valuable land by eliminating under-utilized parking facilities. In addition to this, it will ensure that the existing parking supply is managed efficiently. Edmonton’s example has already given rise to a wave of change across global cities and will continue to inspire those who are headed in its direction.
Without these parking minimums, parking will still be available, but people will have the power to choose how much they want to avail. They will be able to compare it with other uses of finite space. As a result, there won’t be any compulsion to build more parking than necessary.