E-Park Installation causes CONCERN
Earlier this month, the City of Edmonton installed EPark meters and announced new 2-hour parking limits between 105th Avenue and 106th avenue, from 110th St to 115th Street. The North Edge Business Association has stated repeatedly that both Association members and our board are strongly opposed to the installation of paid parking in our Business Improvement Area. After hearing from the Association and many businesses and nonprofits who have been impacted by this change, the City delayed the implementation of the new rules by 3 weeks until February 5th, 2024. However, the Board of Directors would like to make clear that we do not believe that this is sufficient to address the ongoing concerns of our members.
The Association has heard feedback from 50 businesses and nonprofits representing more than half of the businesses and nonprofits in the area that will be affected by the proposed changes. When surveyed, more than 85% of respondents were happy with the current parking situation and a similar percentage wrote that they moved to the area in part because of the access to day-long street parking. The City of Edmonton did install sensors to study the affected streets, but their own research showed that only one street, 114th, was more than half full from 8am to 10pm and failed to demonstrate an urgent need for parking meters. The Board would like to make sure that our members and customers understand that the City made these changes without directly consulting the business community and impacted stakeholders. We have had to conduct this consultation on our own and without the support of the City.
At a time when many businesses are still very much recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation is hitting hard, introducing a new cost for business staff and patrons is hard to understand. Add in the 2-hour time limit and over ¾ of businesses say that their staff will have to move for parking regardless of the cost per hour. Many business owners like Chris, from the Uproot Food Collective are frustrated “limited communication from the city and lack of viable options provided is extremely frustrating. Due to the lack of parking inventory in the area we don't yet have a plan for where our team will park or where we will keep our delivery vehicle at this time”. For many nonprofit organizations, these costs add up and they will be forced to divert funding to cover these expenses. As Darka from the Shumka Dance Centre points out “the EPark system will cost our users over $5000 per month... most are artists, volunteers, students, children and seniors from low to middle income households.”
There is also a serious lack of alternatives to parking in this area. The mix of parking available is not like south of 105th Ave where there are many gravel lots and parkades available. There are only two lots available for people to park in for longer than two hours under the new rules: the already busy MacEwan West lot and a small Impark lot. The only public street parking is north of 106th Ave, dominated by walk up apartments with limited parking as is, especially after hours. The City’s open parking solution isn’t an option either because most of the lots were built more than half a century ago and are very small businesses who are often sharing space at different hours and certainly don’t have parking spaces to do the same with. Rather, with these changes, the City of Edmonton will force a parking crisis for our businesses and the customers and community they serve.
While the Association understands that the area is developing rapidly and change comes with that, key transit infrastructure like the Valley Line West, under construction just south of the BIA, are not yet in place to serve as safe and easy alternatives for driving to the North Edge. EPark and time restrictions should be used as a means of managing parking supply and helping economic growth and not gathering revenue. Additionally, the bike lanes that have transformed and connected our neighbourhood, while beneficial, are only used seasonally. Our Association is being forced to respond to these changes overnight; without proper due diligence. The City of Edmonton should pause all parking limitations and changes indefinitely while a plan is made to conduct good-faith engagement and consultation with local businesses and nonprofits to address their needs with regards to transportation and parking.
Board of Directors
The North Edge Business Association