Stop charging for visitor parking, city warns landlords

The City of Ottawa is preparing to slam the brakes on landlords who charge parking fees for visitor spots at apartment buildings, a city councillor says.

Practice meant to reserve visitor spots for tenants who really need them, landlord says

College ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli says he is getting regular complaints from residents whose buildings charge for visitor parking. 0:18

The City of Ottawa is preparing to slam the brakes on landlords who charge parking fees for visitor spots at apartment buildings, a city councillor says.

College ward Coun. Rick Chiarelli said he gets several calls a week from tenants whose buildings only offer paid visitor parking, and the practice is spreading.

"People are very concerned. A lot of them have caregivers who show up who are now afraid that they're going to have to pay," Chiarelli said.

Sheherbano Ahmed lives in a Minto apartment building that recently started charging $1 per hour for visitor parking. She said that's created some headaches for her family.

"My parents were here for 15 days, and they had to pay for parking every day," Ahamed said.

Sheherbano Ahmed said it's costing her family a lot of money to visit her at her Minto apartment building. (Krystalle Ramlakhan, CBC News)

When the city approves plans for new buildings, staff look closely at the number of parking spaces to make sure there are enough for tenants and their guests. The city doesn't intend for the spots to be monetized, Chiarelli said.

"It inconveniences people and causes real hardship for others," he said.

The city is in talks with major landlords to ask them to stop charging for spots.

Minto defends practice

The reason Minto started charging in the first place was to make sure spaces would be available to the people who need them, according to George Van Noten, the company's senior vice-president of property operations.

"To manage availability and high demand, we've implemented paid visitor parking to ensure that parking is truly available for visitors and best serve our residents," he said in a statement.

Professional caregivers for residents of the building do not need to pay, and loading zones are available for pickups and drop-offs, he said.

But Chiarelli insists the practice needs to stop altogether, and said if it doesn't, council will move to make it illegal.

City staff are expected to report back soon about possible next steps, and Chiarelli said he hopes to take action before this fall's municipal election.