Parking rules needlessly limiting infill in neighbourhoods, council says

Edmonton may be a bit parking mad, according to Mayor Don Iveson, but council has taken the first step to change that in residential neighbourhoods.

Edmonton demands more parking per home than any other major Canadian city

Council is considering changing zoning bylaws to reduce parking requirements for homes in residential neighbourhoods. (Laura Osman/CBC)

Edmonton may be a bit parking mad, according to Mayor Don Iveson, but council has taken the first step to change that in low-density residential neighbourhoods.

Edmonton has some of the highest parking requirements per home of all the major cities in the country.

On Tuesday, council's executive committee voted to draft amendments to the zoning bylaw reducing parking requirements from two stalls per home to just one. 

"Great cities are not built around cars and parking spaces," Iveson said.

He hopes to see some creative solutions to make more room for "human activities" on the street, especially when it comes to infill.

Right now there isn't enough room on most lots to fit a garden suite and the requisite amount of parking, he said.

He hopes getting rid of the parking will "leave enough land to actually city build, instead of parking build."

Instead of requiring three stalls for a detached house with a secondary suite, the property would only need two.

Council also agreed to look at reducing parking requirements even further in areas close to transit. It's possible no parking will be required for secondary suites in places where buses and LRT are available.

McKeen warns of on-street parking jams

City planners said they expected to encounter a brick wall when they approached the public about reducing parking requirements, but they were pleasantly surprised. They said most people were at least willing to have the conversation.

Derek Hiltz with the Canadian Home Builders' Association said the tide is turning on parking, and buyers are less likely to own two cars anyway.

He said he believes building maximum parking into a development is "old thinking," though it may take time for the market to catch up.

Coun. Scott McKeen said as less parking is available on people's properties, the on-street parking crunch in some central neighbourhoods could get worse.

"It's long been my view that residential neighbourhoods should not be treated like parking lots," McKeen said.

"So we have to find a way, with two-hour restrictions, restrictions and that sort of thing, to prevent that from happening."

City administration has also asked council to consider funding an extensive review of all the parking policies in the city. The cost will be up for debate in the fall.

In the meantime, it will work on amendments to lower parking requirements in residential neighbourhoods.

Councillors will review those changes and hold a public hearing early in 2017.