British Columbia

Vancouver councillor wants city to ditch minimum parking requirements for new buildings

Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung plans to put forward a motion at Tuesday's city council meeting that could mean big changes in parking policies for new buildings in the city. 

'The inspiration behind the motion for me is both environmental and economic,' Sarah Kirby-Yung said

Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung is pictured during a meeting at city hall in 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung plans to put forward a motion at Tuesday's city council meeting that could mean big changes in parking policies for new buildings in the city. 

Kirby-Yung wants the city to get rid of current rules that dictate a minimum number of on-site parking stalls in new developments — including condos and business buildings — and replace the rules with a more flexible policy. 

She says there is an oversupply of parking in the city, but notes that she is not pushing for no on-site parking at new developments. 

"There would still be requirements for accessible parking, for people with disabilities, service requirements and loading ... we're just providing more choice," Kirby-Yung said. "The inspiration behind the motion for me is both environmental and economic." 

She wants to see an updated policy that would create some flexibility for property owners, developers and businesses to have the amount of parking that would best suit what they're building and where it's located. 

"I think it's really about choice. We really do have a demonstrated oversupply in parking that's in the city," Kirby-Yung said.

Duncan Wlodarczak, chief of staff for Onni Group, said the developers on the team are in support of a motion like this that allows for reduced costs on future projects and a smaller footprint on the environment.

Duncan Wlodarczak with Onni group said removing minimum parking requirements could benefit not only the consumer, but the environment too. (© Luke Potter)

"Parking is the most expensive cost of a project. The time it takes to dig underground parking and overall construction cost significantly impacts cost and affordability of a project," Wlodarczak said.

Both say a single parking spot can cost anywhere from $45,000 to $60,000, which adds significantly to the overall cost of a build.

Wlodarczak notes the demands for parking are significantly different in an area that's well served by transit, opposed to an area of the city that's farther from SkyTrain or major bus routes. 

A similar issue arose in Edmonton, where data showed parking minimums had created an oversupply of parking, with usage rates sitting at about 50 per cent during peak hours, according to urban planners in the city.

In July, parking minimums on new developments became a thing of the past in Edmonton, and Kirby-Yung hopes to make the same change in Vancouver. 

Wlodarczak said removing a minimum on parking requirements would reduce the cost of housing, while Kirby-Yung noted the environmental impact would drop significantly.

She said underground parking is often what causes additional carbon emissions from the concrete used, and Wlodarczak said digging deeper has the potential to create significant environmental impacts.

Overall, Kirby-Yung said Vancouver is "trying to avoid an oversupply of parking," and this could be one way of doing it.

Wlodarczak said developers won't ignore parking demands by not building parking stalls where they're needed, "because then you're not going to be able to sell those units."

Kirby-Yung will put this motion forward to Vancouver city council Tuesday and said she hopes council will look at implementing a parking maximum as well.

About the Author

Zahra Premji

Host/Reporter

Zahra Premji is a host/reporter for CBC News Vancouver. She has worked as a host for CBC Alberta News in Edmonton, and a reporter in B.C. and Manitoba on various stories from racism to health and crime to asylum seekers and immigration. You can reach her at zahra.premji@cbc.ca

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