City council considers ways to redevelop surface parking lots in Edmonton’s core

Traffic is picking up in Edmonton’s city centre once again, and it’s making it difficult to find good parking. Many drivers turn to paid surface parking lots.

Coun. Anne Stevenson said many of the lots are unsightly and illegal because they don’t have the permits to be parking lots.

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“Some of them are paved and have permits in place, and others aren’t and they often have gravel and no permits in place to actually have parking allowed on that property,” Stevenson said.

Edmonton councillors are trying to find a solution.

The urban planning committee has directed city staff to come up with options to speed up the development of vacant parking lots and get rid of lots operating without a permit.

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“Some of these parking lots don’t add to the vibrancy of downtown.

“Particularly in The Quarters, there’s a lot of gravel parking lots, so they don’t really create a welcoming and attractive atmosphere,” Stevenson said.

“Parking lots are not what we want to be seeing downtown. We want to see homes and businesses, so this is a way to make those properties come to life a bit more.”

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Edmonton luncheon focuses on ways to improve downtown core

Stevenson stressed finding solutions isn’t about taking parking away from the core.

Downtown Business Association’s Puneeta McBryan is excited to see this conversation happening.

“What we have happening right now is this limbo that so many properties are in: they’re not eligible for a City of Edmonton surface-level parking lot permit and they’re not doing anything with their property and they are operating in this legal grey area,” McBryan said.

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“It’s an issue of unfairness, it’s an issue of blight and it’s an issue of property speculation, without active development in investment,” McBryan said.

City staff will present their options to council in June.

McByran hopes by then the market will change to help entice property owners to build and this will be a long-term conversation.

“Market conditions are really tough so some of them might be property owners who have great plans for their site and they do want to build, but the timing makes no sense right now,” she said.

“We really need everyone to be fully invested and making constructive, exciting, positive decisions for downtown.”

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