Edmonton

Downtown neighbourhoods demand relief from parking crunch

People who live downtown say the countless cars parked on their streets make them feel like they’re living in a parking lot. Councillors have vowed to ease the congestion, but it could come at a cost to residents.

People may have to pay to park on residential streets outside their homes

The city is looking for ways to keep people from parking for free in front of people's homes. Coun. Andrew Knack floated the idea of charging for residential parking permits. (Laura Osman/CBC)

People who live downtown say the countless cars parked on their streets make them feel like they're living in a parking lot.

Councillors have vowed to ease the congestion, but it could come at a cost to residents.

In communities such as Oliver, Central McDougall and Boyle, the roads are often crowded with cars owned by people who don't want to pay for parking.

"It is parked all to hell and gone," said Warren Champion from Central McDougall.

He said the problem is particularly bad in his neighbourhood, which is nestled between downtown, McEwan University, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

He said all the cars on the streets make it difficult for residents to park. He expects matters will only get worse when the downtown arena district is finished.

"Everything is taken. It is just wall to wall cars," he said.

City staff spent a year studying the problem in seven central neighbourhoods, and are working on ways to fix it.

One solution involves designated parking permits in congested neighbourhoods. Coun. Andrew Knack said it may be time to ask people to start paying for residential permits as well.

"You look at a city like Toronto, most of their residential streets you have to pay for residential on-street parking," Knack said.

"In Edmonton, we're obviously nowhere near the point where that would happen across the city. But are we at the point where some of these neighbourhoods downtown we actually need to explore that?"

In Toronto, parking passes sell for about $15 per month for the first car, and $36 for the second.

Downtown Coun. Scott McKeen said drivers parking downtown should pay, instead of parking for free at the expense of neighbourhoods.

"I know the communities will be relieved not to be used as parking lots," he said.

City staff said they will keep the option on the table as they develop their parking strategies. They hope to have some solutions in place before the downtown arena district opens in 2016.

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