Parking Downtown? You’re Paying the Highest Monthly Rates in All of Canada

Posted by Alan Zunec on Friday, April 4th, 2014 at 2:45pm.

New York has the highest monthly parking rates in North America. No surprise. It’s so crazy in the Big Apple that cars are parked in buildings that have stacked parking spaces. Think of it as a bunch of lockers but they’re big enough to hold cars. An elevator takes the car to and from its designated monthly spot while the owner looks on from below. Seems almost space age, doesn’t it?

Calgary may not have the car cubby-holes, at least not yet, but it does hold the distinction of having the highest downtown monthly parking rates in Canada. The city is also number two in North America, right behind space age New York. A recent survey found that the average cost of a monthly parking spot in Calgary was $473.

That same survey looked at 12 of Canada’s major metro areas and found a national average of $251 per month. Calgary is nearly double. Other cities with sky-high parking rates include Montreal at $344 per month, Toronto at $315 per month, Edmonton coming in at $306 per month and Vancouver, where parking your wheels runs roughly $302 per month. Cushman & Wakeman, the company producing the survey, did not have the actual dollar amount for New York, it’s an estimate.

It seems in Calgary homes are not the only things in short supply. Available monthly car rental spaces are hard to find. When you do find one or two, expect prices to be nowhere near the levels found just a few short years ago. Landlords, noting the tight market, are doing their best to cash in.

Logic says that there will come a time and a price where drivers will say “forget it’ and turn to other means of getting to work. Either that or companies will move out of the downtown core into the suburbs where real estate and parking spaces are not at such a premium. Imperial Oil already made that move and now operates out of Quarry Park.
An improved public transit system would help workers avoid the high cost of parking but that must come largely from the city fathers. The government should also consider the effect that parking rates could have on tourism. Some attractions and restaurants may be avoided because it’s either too hard to find parking or the cost is too great. Most of these parkers come into the short-term parking category, overseen by the Calgary Downtown Association.

Another contributor to the lack of available parking is the newly embraced Calgary Environmental parking policy. Any new buildings going up are restricted in how much space they can devote to parking. There are two sides to that story. One is the fewer parking stalls issue; the other is the push to get consumers into the public transit system. Environmentally that is the smarter option but in a city where the suburbs are fanning out farther and farther this may not be practical for everyone. Those most likely to use public transit live in the downtown core or surrounding neighbourhoods. People living in the outer suburbs either don’t have public service yet or find that it’s much faster to commute by car.  Besides, in a city that owes much of its prosperity to the production of oil, it’s kind of hard to get people to give up their wheels.

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