EDMONTON -- Edmonton city council voted Tuesday evening to eliminate minimum parking requirements from the city’s zoning bylaw, calling it a first among major Canadian cities.

The move gives developers the ability to decide how much on-site parking they want to provide on their properties.

“Parking is a powerful, but often hidden, force that shapes how our communities are designed and influences every aspect of how people live, work and move around,” said Kim Petrin, Development Services Branch Manager with the City of Edmonton, in a news release.

The city said that on-site parking stalls can cost between $7,000 and $60,000 each, calling it a ‘significant’ barrier for affordable housing projects and new businesses in the city.

While Edmonton has historically allocated a “disproportionate amount of space” to parking amenities the change will be gradual, the city said.

“The new rules will only come into effect as homes and businesses are slowly developed or redeveloped across the city in the decades ahead.”

Crawford Block, just off Whyte Avenue, was built four years ago with tiny rental suites and no parking stalls. At the time, few thought it would be successful, said Chris Dulaba with Beljan Developments.

"I think there was a lot of raised eyebrows when we proposed a building with microsuites, retail facing the alley, and no parking," said Dulaba.

Dulaba says he's proud Crawford Block has been such a success and says it likely played a role in council's decision, and opens the door to more developments like it.

"Next to an LRT for example or one of Edmonton's more walkable neighbourhoods, they can choose to build with little or no parking," said Urban Planner Ashley Salvador.

Salvador says for areas like Whyte Avenue and 124 Street, it's the new way forward to create communities.

"This is a larger conversation about how we're choosing to get around our city, and yes, we are an auto oriented city, but we aren't that way by nature."

A big change for existing businesses and homeowners is the ability to lease or share parking space with nearby properties. This will be monitored by city staff who are expected to make a report to council about the impact of shared parking in early 2021.

The new rules also keep some requirements at similar levels and increase others:  

  • Accessible parking rates will remain comparable to current numbers
  • Maximum parking requirements downtown are not changing
  • Bicycle parking requirements have increased
  • Maximum parking requirements in Transit Oriented Development and main-street areas have been increased

The changes are slated to take effect on July 2. More information is available on the city’s website.