News / Edmonton

Edmonton restaurants could get a break on strict parking rules

Edmonton’s requirement of one parking space for every 3.6 square metres of dining space is the second highest in the country, behind only Calgary and far higher than Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Meat, just off Whyte Avenue, was initially unable to open because of parking restrictions.

Hilary McDonald

Meat, just off Whyte Avenue, was initially unable to open because of parking restrictions.

City councillors want to water down parking rules for restaurants, which are among the highest in the country, and have stopped some new eateries from getting on the menu.

Edmonton’s requirement of one parking space for every 3.6 square metres of dining space is the second highest in the country, behind only Calgary and far higher than Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

As a pilot project, councillors voted Tuesday to have city administration draft new rules for parking in Old Strathcona, Jasper Avenue in Oliver and the 124 Street area that would lower parking requirements, which are currently among the highest in the country.

They will also look at other parts of the city, but intend begin in those three areas with changes coming back potentially by the end of the year.

Outside of downtown, restaurants need one parking space per 3.6 square metres of space in their restaurant, by contrast Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa and Toronto have much lower requirements.

Coun. Bev Esslinger said the rules have to change.

“Compared to other cities we really have to do something,” she said.

The parking restrictions don’t exist in downtown and Mayor Don Iveson said that’s unfair.

“We’ve actually created a situation that is unfair to people who want to run these types of businesses and can’t find space downtown,” he said.

Saylish Haas, co-owner of the Next Act and Meat, went through a huge hurdle to be able to open her BBQ restaurant last year over parking restrictions, delaying opening by months.

“We basically were not able to open. We were told we would not ever be able to open unless that bylaw changed,” she said. The initial zoning bylaw would have required Meat, in the heart of Old Strathcona, to have 27 parking spaces. They initially got a waiver from the development officer, but that waiver was appealed and they could not open until city council passed new bylaws.

She said parking restrictions like this slow down a city’s progress.

“Whether you are a retail shop or whether you’re a restaurant, why should that hold you back from being able to open?”

She said with more neighbourhoods becoming walkable, there is no reason to cater so much to cars.

“People seem to panic when they have to walk more than two blocks,” she said. “People in other cities walk a lot more than we do.”

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