On August 23, 2022, Paths for People spoke to City Council regarding updates to the City’s report on its Curbside Management Strategy. This strategy is an exciting opportunity to more efficiently and effectively use public road space to support community needs and goals.
Parking space is a key component of our public roadway system; it’s a resource we need to effectively and efficiently manage. But, it’s also a space that community members sometimes misunderstand. Some residents or business owners construe the spot out front of their property as something they own or get first dibs on.
A person’s ability to control space does not extend beyond their private property onto our public road right of way.
More and more Edmontonians are growing to understand this. For example, people don’t have a right to store private goods on public property. However, we are permitted to park, subject to certain constraints and qualifications. Although there are some misconceptions about who owns on-street parking, we emphasize that a lot of the work undertaken within the Curbside Management Strategy strongly aligns with many Edmontonians’ interests and aspirations.
Edmontonians want more transportation options. Although most Edmontonians drive, more and more residents want freedom of choice when it comes to using different modes. The Strategy flags many opportunities to enhance the experience of using transit, cycling, walking and rolling using space in many parts of the City we’ve over-allocated to cars. Sometimes it does feel like we have to drive around a bit to find a parking spot, especially in the core. But City reports from 2019 indicate that the parking utilization is often only around 50%. This means we’ve over-dedicated space on our public roadway network and private development to parking, which could be much better utilized to achieve larger community building goals like improving transportation options.
More broadly, we think Edmontonians want the City to be good stewards of public resources, ensuring we effectively and efficiently manage this to support both community needs and objectives. Acknowledging that parking is under-utilized across the City means that Edmontonians are not getting good value for the space we currently dedicate to parking. There are better uses for this space.
We call on the City to be bolder in its approach to re-envisioning curb space. Many of the ideas listed under Action 1 are examples of great temporary or smaller-scale re-allocations of parking spaces. Part of the Curbside Management Plan should speak to a more systemic transformation of parking spaces. There is so much excess parking across the City that we should be re-allocating from parking to other, better uses. We should be thinking big about what we can do with this space. This space could potentially be a location where we plant 2 million trees, as per the City Plan, and reduce the Urban Heat Island effect. We could permanently narrow streets to calm traffic and make it safer for all users.
Direction for permanently altering road right-of-ways to turn parking spaces into people spaces needs to be a strong plank of this Strategy. Administration’s indication that universal design recommendations will be made for new infrastructure and renewal projects is highly important and is an approach we greatly support.
We also call upon the City to make community-led activations of parking spaces more streamlined, to ensure that neighbourhoods and local businesses can take the lead on vitalizing street space and creating more people-places in our communities.