Apartment buildings and retail spaces could soon be allowed to offer fewer parking spaces, while little change is recommended when it comes to residential driveway widths.
Those are the staff recommendations to be discussed during a city council workshop next week, with the goal of gathering input to help shape formal recommendations to be put forward in a new draft comprehensive zoning bylaw later this year, followed by public engagement on the issue.
“One of the main objectives of the comprehensive zoning bylaw review is to align new regulations with the policies of the official plan,” states the staff report that includes initial recommendations. “The city’s official plan sets out a broad range of policy guidance related to parking, loading and transportation demand management, which is intended to inform the development of appropriate zoning bylaw standards.”
Parking requirements have long been a heated issue in the city, especially in light of residential intensification demands, student housing, limits faced by older areas and the stated goal of reducing vehicular traffic.
Among the recommendations is to allow apartment buildings to offer one parking space per unit, as well as 0.25 visitor spaces for the first 20 units and 0.15 visitor spots for every additional unit.
That’s a decrease of half a space for each of the first 20 units and 0.25 spots for units beyond that limit, though visitor parking is included in those calculations.
In terms of retail parking, every 100 square metres currently calls for six spaces. Revisions would see that dropped to three spaces in most cases, with two for mixed-use areas (no more than three).
No change is proposed in terms of townhouse parking, which is recommended to stay at 1.25 spaces per unit including visitor parking.
“Based on analysis of the findings, recommendations have been made that in some cases do not reduce the existing parking requirement, but add clarity to what is required for the development and what is required for visitor parking,” the report notes. “In some other cases recommendations were made to reduce parking requirements slightly.”
As far as residential driveways go, staff is recommending width be capped at half that of dwelling or limits already in place – whichever is less.
“Maximum driveway widths ensure that adequate space is available for cars in driveways while providing space for front yard and boulevard landscaping including street trees, less impervious/hard surfaced areas to accommodate stormwater drainage, and increased potential for on-street parking (due to a longer curbside for cars to park beside),” staff explain in the report.
At the moment, staff recommends “alternative parking rates” be set for priority growth areas such as community mixed-use nodes and intensification corridors, with the exception of the downtown, with reduced parking requirements and a cap on the number of spaces allowed.
“Geographic-based parking recognizes that parking needs can vary considerably throughout the city and that parking regulations should reflect the specific needs of different areas,” explains the report. “The use of maximum parking rate regulations, combined with the proposed reduced parking minimums, will help ensure that development within the priority growth areas will be transit supportive and not have an oversupply of parking.”
Bicycle parking limits should also be established, staff urge.
“Transportation demand management measures such as the provision of bicycle parking can help to influence travel behaviour and promote other modes of transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles,” explains the report. “The provision of bicycle parking can further support a reduction in the number of required vehicle parking spaces.”
In preparing the initial recommendations for the April 14 council workshop, staff reviewed a number of city policies as well as trends and regulations in other municipalities.
Identified trends include the removal of parking minimums, establishment of parking maximums, shared parking, unbundled parking, electric vehicle parking and bicycle parking with shower and change facilities.