Parking profits to be used for community improvements under city proposal

Excess revenue collected through the city's Park Plus system could soon be used to spruce up the communities where it was generated, under a plan proposed by the city's transportation committee.

Money could be used for upgrades in the neighbourhood where it was generated

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra wants to see the city use excess Park Plus revenue to improve the community where it was collected. (CBC)

Excess revenue collected through the city's Park Plus system could soon be used to spruce up the communities where it was generated — giving a huge boost to the downtown core, where about 85 per cent of revenue is generated.

Members of the city's Transportation and Transit Committee voted in favour this week of creating Parking Benefit Districts, which would see leftover parking revenue poured back into the areas where it was collected.

"What we're starting to recognize is neighbourhoods that generate parking demand have seen historic dis-investment over the years, and we're trying to correct that," Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"And one of the ways to correct that is to share the wealth with the people who are creating that revenue source for us. We're trying to let market forces work a little bit more intelligently."

Under the current model, money generated through Park Plus is used to pay for the program and anything left over goes into general revenue.

The proposed new plan would see money returned to each community.

"Businesses in the downtown core generate about 83 to 87 per cent of the revenue, and places like Inglewood are somewhere around 12 per cent — so there's a spectrum of who gets what," said Carra.

"We put that into a pool and we're going to start working with the local communities to invest that. I think a place like Inglewood is looking at $12,000 a year, I think the downtown core is looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."

The money will be used for what Carra calls "public realm improvements."

"Sidewalks, maybe taking an overly wide street and converting it to a wider sidewalk and angled parking with beautiful planters and benches," he said.

"Just things to make neighbourhood life, pedestrianism and growing the business of parking a more pleasant experience for everyone."

The city is also looking at extending some two-hour parking zones. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

Another proposal introduced at Wednesday's committee meeting was longer stay parking — extending the usual two hours to four.

"Every neighbourhood basically needs three kinds of parking," said Carra. "They need convenience parking for the local businesses, they need convenience parking for the local residents, and then they need a longer stay parking."

City council has yet to ratify the committee recommendation.