More cars, more parking problems in downtown Saskatoon

Saskatoon has more parking downtown than ever, but for people who work in the city's core, it's still a challenge to find a spot.
The City of Saskatoon is hoping to solve several downtown parking issues with its new strategy. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC )

Saskatoon has more parking downtown than ever, but for people who work in the city's core, it's still a challenge to find a spot.

While there are 11,000 spots downtown, there are 25,000 more cars in Saskatoon than five years ago. Waiting lists to get a permanent spot in some parking lots can still take years. 

"They've definitely got to do something about parking in Saskatoon and making the transit system better, that kind of thing," city resident Jason Blum said.

Part of the problem is that only 400 more spots have been added despite the growth. 

"I personally park across the bridge and I walk every morning," said SIIT business administration student Chelsea Gamble.

Looking for a parking spot in downtown Saskatoon? Good luck, people scrambling for stalls say. ((CBC))

"It can be up to $10, $12 a day just to come to school. So it's really expensive. And the prices in the parking stalls have gone up since last year. It used to be some of them were $5, $8. Now all of them are $10 or more." 

Despite some increases, at a median of  $170 a month, Saskatoon still has some of the cheapest parking in Canada.

Alan Wallace, Saskatoon's planning manager, says parking lots currently occupy more than a quarter of downtown Saskatoon.

"We want surface parking like that to be temporary," he said. "The problem is we're seeing a lot of these gravel parking lots ... become permanent uses, or long-term uses. There's no real end point."


Wallace says parking in Saskatoon is self-regulated — the city doesn't mandate any parking be included in new buildings downtown, though some companies build it in because their tenants want it. 

But many gravel lots do end up staying gravel, rather than turning into high-rises, or parkades.

The city does not mandate any parking be included in new buildings downtown, but says companies build it in because their tenants want it.

"Parking is required. It's essential," said Wallace. "We are going to drive cars. We are going to support our downtown by driving to it. We have to recognize and support that but there are other ways of moving around as well."
Wallace wants incentives for developers who put multi-level parkades in downtown towers, he also says faster transit bus service might convince more people to leave their cars at home.


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