1,600 parking tickets: City cracks down on illegal arena parking

More than $120,000 in fines have been issued as the city cracks down on illegal parking near the new downtown arena.
Hundreds of drivers have been fined since the arena opened last month. (CBC)

More than $120,000 in fines have been issued over the past month as the city cracks down on illegal parking near the new downtown arena.

As the Edmonton Oilers prepare to host nearly 19,000 fans at their  Rogers Place home opener Wednesday, the city is reminding residents parking restrictions are being strictly enforced.

People who park illegally will be fined $75 and may be towed from the site at the standard rate of $120 plus a $35 per day storage fee.

More than 1,600 parking tickets have been issued in the area since the arena began operations last month.

"We've seen people parked in zones that are marked no parking, that are marked no stopping and this can create some traffic congestion as well as safety concerns when there is pedestrian foot traffic," said Alison Burns, a spokesperson with the city's parking enforcement department.

Illicit parking lots have also been a growing concern.

City officials are warning residents and businesses near the new arena that selling or providing parking spaces to event-goers on private property is prohibited by law.

Burns says the presence of illegal lots can be a huge burden on surrounding neighbourhoods.

"That's when people sell their backyard as a parking lot," said Burns.

"That can cause a lot of problems. It brings a lot of traffic into neighbourhoods. It can lead to increased litter, increased cigarette litter, excessive noise, damage to private property, curb crossing and other bylaw infractions."

Although Burns said a number of warnings have been issued over illegal lots, there are no exact numbers available on how many of those $1,400 fines have been issued.

Parking issues have plagued the new $600 million venue even before it began operations.

The Katz Group hopes to temporarily rezone a large swath of undeveloped land just north of the new arena to create a temporary 800-stall parking space but there has been strong opposition to the proposal from residents, councillors, and Mayor Don Iveson.

The Katz Group is asking for the temporary parking while it works on a 2,200-stall underground parking garage downtown, a facility which won't be completed for several years.

Right now, the land is designated to eventually be developed with commercial space and high-density apartment and condo buildings. Rogers Place needs 5,800 parking spots to cover a major event.

Council approved a temporary gravel parking lot for 600 vehicles on land north of Rogers Place. (Emily Fitzpatrick/ CBC News)