Ottawa's transportation committee OKs 50-cent paid parking rate hike

Byaward
Cars parked on-street in the ByWard Market.

On-street parking rates in most of Ottawa will rise by 50 cents an hour if council gives the green light to staff recommendations endorsed Wednesday by the city’s transportation committee.

Under the proposed changes to the city’s parking strategy, Ottawa’s on-street parking rate of $3 per hour ​– which now applies to about 80 per cent of the total spots ​– would rise to $3.50 effective Jan. 1, 2020. The maximum rate would rise to $4 an hour.

The city’s current parking rates have not changed since 2008. 

A staff report says the proposed changes to the parking strategy – which would include hiring three new full-time city employees to develop and implement a new bike parking strategy that is slated to go to the committee next year – would cost the city an extra $1.1 million a year, which would be offset by a projected $1.1 million in additional revenue from higher parking fees.

Other changes would include the introduction of a “demand-driven” pricing model that would allow parking rates to be raised or lowered by 50 cents an hour within specific zones depending on demand. 

Under the proposed new rules, individual councillors, BIAs and community associations would also no longer have the power to veto rate hikes or the introduction of paid parking in specific zones when a study recommends fees are warranted. Instead, council as a whole would have the sole authority to accept or reject the study’s recommendations.

Westboro Village BIA executive director Michelle Groulx said business groups aren’t surprised by the proposed changes because Ottawa is one of the few cities that allows organizations such as BIAs to overrule the introduction of paid on-street parking.

Still, Groulx said she fears that instituting paid on-street parking in her ward – a recommendation her group vetoed a few years ago – could deter shoppers from visiting the neighbourhood.

“No business or main street wants that,” she said in an email to OBJ on Wednesday afternoon. “We hope that the city gives plenty of time to adjust and prepare for paid parking and allow BIAs and our business members the time to communicate this to all visitors and patrons.”

Although the report approved by the transportation committee noted “inconsistencies” in evening and weekend parking rates around the city, staff decided further study is needed before making any recommendations on the issue. Staff suggested a pilot project could be launched to test shifting paid parking hours, with a report assessing the issue likely to be presented to council before the end of 2021.

Council will vote on the committee's recommendations at its next meeting on Oct. 9.