Edmonton erases 15 residential parking zones, adds charge for neighbourhood parking permits

The City of Edmonton will remove 15 residential parking permit zones as it revamps its approach to enforcement in Edmonton neighbourhoods.  (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)
The City of Edmonton will remove 15 residential parking permit zones as it revamps its approach to enforcement in Edmonton neighbourhoods. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

Restrictions that prevented visitors from snagging curbside spots will soon be a thing of the past in most Edmonton neighbourhoods where residential parking permits have been required.

The City of Edmonton is revamping regulations that were designed to give neighbourhood residents first dibs on coveted street parking spots near their homes.

The city will scrap 15 of its 19 residential permit parking zones — areas where parking was once reserved for neighbourhood residents, either around the clock or during major community events.

Permits were previously free to residents but under the new system, they will now cost $120 per year.

The changes will start rolling out in June and residents in affected neighbourhoods are expected to get more details on the new permit system in the coming weeks.

Restricted parking signs will begin coming down this summer in areas including Northlands, Holyrood, Southgate and Wîhkwêntôwin, formerly known as Oliver.

Only four permit parking zones — in Garneau, around NAIT, in Windsor Park and surrounding Commonwealth Stadium — will remain, but will be reduced in size by between eight and 30 per cent.

City councillors accepted the plan during an urban planning committee meeting Tuesday, giving administration the go-ahead to make the changes.

Administration says the new rules will keep pace with changing parking demand, make enforcement more consistent, and provide more equitable access to a valuable public asset — the curbside space between street traffic and sidewalk.

Edmonton's street parking system was established in 1978 to manage curbside congestion. The program has not changed since then, and city administration officials said the old rules don't reflect changes in parking demand in Edmonton's neighbourhoods.

Craig McKeown, branch manager of parks and roads services, said the new system was developed following a review of what other cities are doing, and a survey of Edmontonians that gathered more than 2,600 responses.

The current parking restriction zones will be lifted in areas where there is no longer a "traffic generator" — a landmark or attraction such as a stadium or major transit hub — that draws higher than expected volumes of vehicles to the neighbourhood.

"This is public space, it's public roads. We're not looking to create a quasi-gated neighbourhood by having only residents park in certain areas," McKeown told the committee.

"We don't want to completely get rid of the entire program, but update it based on the research and the trends we're seeing."

Residents who still require a permit will need to pay $10 a month starting in September, and pay $120 for a new annual permit starting in 2025.

Existing residential parking permits expire on May 31 and new digital permits will be made available before that date, the city said.

A maximum of two permits per household will be issued in active restriction areas. Student permits are exempt from the two permit maximum.

Under the old system, permits were only available to residents of single-family homes and multi-family buildings up to three storeys tall.

Under the new program, residents living in multi-unit residential buildings of all sizes will now be eligible for parking permits.

Program hours will be aligned to the current EPark schedule and enforced from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be no parking restrictions outside of established program hours, except during winter parking bans.

'Timing is terrible'

The city says discounts will be offered to students and low-income residents and that removing the permits will provide more accessible parking options to Edmonton neighbourhoods.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voiced his opposition to the plan, suggesting the permit fees would be a burden on Edmontonians who are already struggling with the affordability crisis.

Sohi said people with low-incomes or living in student housing may not have access to reserved parking or a driveway on their properties.

"The timing is terrible. People are struggling with affordability and this is going to impact low-income Edmontonians, it's going to impact students," Sohi said.

"Even $10 a month for some people is a struggle so I will not be able to support this."

City officials say they will monitor the impact of the new program on neighbourhood streets.

Coun. Anne Stevenson, who sits on the planning committee, said a new strategy is long overdue but said the city needs to ensure the plan succeeds in making neighbourhoods more accessible.

She said the old rules were too restrictive and inconsistent. The new plan will help ensure every driver has equal access to city streets, she said in an interview Wednesday.

"The way the program was set up, it really privileged some users over others," Stevenson said.

"Our curbside parking is an asset that belongs to all Edmontonians."

Neighbourhoods where parking permit restrictions will be lifted:

  • Belgravia.

  • Belvedere.

  • Boyle Street.

  • Central McDougall.

  • Century Park.

  • Glengarry.

  • Groat Estates.

  • Holyrood.

  • McKernan.

  • Northlands.

  • Oliver (Wîhkwêntôwin).

  • Parkallen.

  • Rossdale.

  • Royal Gardens.

  • Southgate.