Parking restrictions lifted in neighbourhood by Wolf Willow staircase, won't be renewed: city
Parking at a popular river valley access point in west Edmonton will not be limited to only residents, as some in the community asked for last year.
A year-long pilot program in which only residents of Wolf Willow Crescent and Wolf Willow Point, with a permit, were allowed to park on those streets ended Nov. 1 and will not be renewed, the city says.
"The vast majority … including a majority of those residing within the program area, were not in favour of the program," a statement posted on a City of Edmonton website reads.
The city agreed to test a parking pass program in the neighbourhood after community members complained about congestion, speeding, and improper parking by green space users.
The nearby Wolf Willow staircase leads into the Patricia Ravine in Edmonton's southwest river valley.
During the pilot, public parking was limited to specific areas, and the city designated two accessible parking stalls near the staircase.
Over 231 visits, enforcement officers gave 22 verbal warnings, 27 written warnings, and 104 violation tickets.
WHAT THE CITY LEARNED DURING THE PILOT
Between June and September, the city collected feedback from Wolf Willow residents, trail users, and the general public through surveys, online meetings and an online forum. Approximately 1,750 people took a survey, 75 attended a meeting, and 7,400 people visited the online forum.
About eight per cent of participants were Wolf Willow residents, and another 15 per cent lived in the neighbourhood but not on the crescent. The majority of participants, 64 per cent, lived outside the Westridge and Oleskiw communities.
According to the surveys, of those who used the staircase, satisfaction levels with their parking experience dropped from 56 per cent to 17 per cent while the parking pass program was in effect.
However, 53 per cent of Westridge and Oleskiw residents who were surveyed told the city they would want the program to be implemented permanently, citing safety reasons.
The 41 per cent of Westridge and Oleskiw residents who did not want to see it continued said issues were not alleviated but simply moved to a different part of the community. Some also reported "increased neighbourhood polarization" due to the program.
The majority of the neighbourhood respondents who did not live on Wolf Willow did not support continuing the parking pass program.
The vast majority of survey respondents from outside the Westridge and Oleskiw communities did not support the change, with 55 per cent saying a public space should be available to everyone. Other concerns included the pilot discouraged people from visiting the area; did not take into consideration different needs, such as that of seniors or parents with young children; and could set a precedent for other neighbourhoods.
“I’m just happy that’s it going to be taken off and people can enjoy our river valley again,” Wolf Willow resident Barb Ellis told CTV News Edmonton.
“What’s it’s actually done is just move the parking down the street. So instead of parking here, they’re parking two blocks down.”
Doug Armstrong, who also lives in the neighbourhood, sees it differently.
“The frequency of activity in the neighbourhood was quite phenomenal,” he said, adding he expects parking spots in front of his home to be occupied by green-space users in the near future.
“We should talk this over with the city. One thing being that there could be a partial ban. That is one side of the street, not both sides of the street and in front of every driveway.”
According to a city spokesperson, the parking permit pilot in Wolf Willow was a unique test, compared to other residential parking programs. However, the existing programs are due to be revamped and enhanced to balance curbside congestion in residential areas and equitable access to public spaces, Jessica Lamarre, director of safe mobility and traffic operations, told CTV News Edmonton.
As part of the work to modernize the residential parking programs, the city will be looking for more feedback next year, which Wolf Willow residents will be able to participate in.
Over the next few weeks, restricted parking signage will be removed from Wolf Willow, save two no-parking and accessible parking stalls, as well as three no-stopping zones right by the stairs.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Joe Scarpelli
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