Airbnb-style parking app motors into cities across Quebec, Ontario
Critics worry it encourages car commuting, developer says it reduces time spent searching for spot
Two years after its launch, the Espace Park app, which allows people to rent out private parking spaces like apartments on Airbnb, is expanding across Quebec and into Ontario.
Liam Garneau was a 19-year-old CEGEP student when he came up with the idea of creating a Airbnb-type service for parking.
"I couldn't find a parking spot, so I thought, 'Why not profit from existing spots to help out students?'"
The Espace Park app uses an interactive map to show available parking spots and allows users to make a payment with a credit card.
The app is popular with students and commuters who otherwise find themselves patrolling busy, car-packed neighbourhoods in search of available spots.
Espace Park currently offers more than 300 parking spaces in Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Montreal, Gatineau and Toronto.
Liam Garneau intends to expand to other places in Canada, and he's also eyeing the United States.
Espace Park (<a href="https://twitter.com/Sharingparking?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sharingparking</a>) est la nouvelle plateforme qui répond à la pénurie de stationnements dans plusieurs villes canadiennes. 📲💻 Pour plus de détails 👉 <a href="https://t.co/oVgXdbJRG6">https://t.co/oVgXdbJRG6</a> <a href="https://t.co/iV07bkjjk2">pic.twitter.com/iV07bkjjk2</a>—@beaudoin_rp
The app was quick to garner acclaim from the start, Garneau said.
"When we saw the way demand was growing, we thought we had something viable. We saw that the [parking spot] owners were happy to create some additional income," he said.
"We can see there are plenty of parking spaces available during the day. And there are plenty of people who would be interested in renting them."
Environmentalists do raise concerns that the app could increase traffic, as commuters will be more likely to rely on their cars instead of public transit.
"Knowing we have a parking spot as a destination is one of the most important factors in our choice to take our car," said Alexandre Turgeon, the head of the Conseil régional de l'environnement de la région de la Capitale-Nationale.
Turgeon acknowledged, however, that an app like Espace Park could, at the same time, optimize available parking spaces.
Garneau maintains the app actually has environmental benefits, because commuters don't drive around in circles for 15 to 20 minutes to find a spot. Instead, they just find a spot with the app and quickly park their car.
Based on a Radio-Canada report