City debates increased parking fines, changes to park & ride
Council is considering a parking fine increase that would be the first in six years and would make Calgary the third most expensive Canadian city to get a parking ticket.
Some of the more common parking violations would go up by $18, such as parking too close to an intersection or a fire hydrant. That would cost $68, but only $40 if you pay right away.
But the most significant changes are concerning park and ride lots. Some people using park and ride lots can pay to have a reserved spot, while everyone else can park for free while spots are available. Council is considering increasing the number of reserved spots, possibly to 100%, and bringing back a charge for all other spots too.
“I think this is a terrible idea," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. "Suddenly for a subset of people who take transit we would increase their monthly costs not by 6 dollars but by 3 times 20… $60 dollars a month.”
The mayor says it’s ridiculous to reduce the number of free parking spots as it would discourage transit use.
“Because they are using transit for part of their ride, we are able to have something like eight or 11 lanes of traffic going into downtown that we don’t need anymore, so why would we penalize those folks?” he said. “If you have to drop off your kids at daycare, or you have hockey right after work, I would much rather have you take the train to a station and drive from that station than to drive all the way downtown.”
Other members of council agree that having too many reserved spots would cause problems.
“The Peter Lougheed Hospital, as an example, when they went to charging for parking for their staff, a lot of the parking ended up going out into the adjacent communities,” said Andre Chabot, Ward 10 Councillor.
But with about 8,000 people on a waiting list to get a reserved spot, other councillors say some high-demand lots should be reservation only.
“If you are able to pay and you need that spot, you should be able to have it,” said Shane Keating, Ward 12 Councillor. “So if it means we are getting to in some cases 80, 90 and even 100% reservation at a C-Train station, then that’s possibly what we should be looking at.”
The mayor says he is happy with having the lots be 50% reserved and 50% free, and says there are other ways to make park and ride lots work better.
“Should we figure out how to charge people more who live outside the city limits for parking? Yes, we should, because they don’t use their property taxes to pay for transit. Should we look at demand-based pricing that allows people to use the spots on a daily basis that are not used by the monthly parkers? Absolutely. Should we look at changing the time that the spots become free to 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. Absolutely. But charging to make the lots 100% reserved I think is a terrible idea,” he said.
Both the parking bylaw and the park and ride changes are set to go before council on Wednesday.