Ottawa driveway rental website hits snag
Residents risk fines for turning driveways into public parking spaces
Business student Scott Hallum and his brother John recently created a website called parkinmydriveway.com.
They hoped the site would become a marketplace for residents to link up with drivers looking for an alternative place to park their vehicles besides expensive lots and elusive spots on the street.
"It is a one-for-one service," said Hallum. "For example, I would go to work, and you would come park in my driveway."
Users would pay a fee for using the website in addition to the rental cost for the parking.
At first, said Hallum, city bylaw officers told him the service was in line with city parking laws.
However, as the website started to attract interest from business leaders looking for solutions to the city's parking crunch, Hallum said city bylaw officers changed their tune.
"They thought we were going to make residential driveways into commercial parking lots," said Hallum.
"We aren't trying to promote making driveways into parking lots. We are trying to promote official land use and sustainable development."
Driveways for private use, not commercial
Ottawa's zoning bylaw prohibits residents from using their driveways for commercial use.
City spokesperson Barre Campbell said residents who rent their spaces to someone else would be breaking the law.
"This is a case of seller beware. Sell or rent out your laneway, and you could risk being fined," said Campbell in a statement to CBC News.
While the city does have a record of supporting entrepreneurship, he said, the city wants to keep careful control over its parking system. Promoting alternative forms of transportation besides vehicles is also a priority, he said.
Hallum plans to contact city councillors in hopes of having the zoning bylaw changed.
"There are a lot of people that support this," said Hallum. "Hopefully we can make some amendments."
In the meantime, Hallum is encouraging people to sign up on the site to show their support.
Entrepreneurs subject of online reality show
The Hallum brothers' rocky experience of starting a new business isn't going to waste.
They are being featured on an online reality video series called Idea2Delivery produced by a local business consulting firm.
Meanwhile, the practice of renting out residential parking spaces is gaining popularity on sites such as Craigslist.
Toronto-based Parkingspots.com also provides a service linking residential and business owners with people looking to rent parking spots.