News / Edmonton

Most parking lots in Edmonton Quarters district illegal

City says it must strike a balance with illegal parking and is working on a new strategy to tackle issue

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

Alf White would rather see buildings, not illegal surface parking. 

And it's why one tidbit of information — that within the sea of surface parking in the Quarters, only one lot has a permit to operate legally — upsets him so.  

“Some buildings come down and then the space they were in is just sitting empty,” said White, president of the Boyle Street Community League (who wasn’t speaking on behalf of the board of directors). 

“The parking lots that are there now have been there for some time. It’s frustrating.”

Mary Ann Debrinski, director of urban renewal with city administration, told Metro Thursday that of the 1,300 parking stalls in the Quarters, there’s only one lot that actually has the right to operate legally. 

Debrinski couldn’t say how many lots in total are in the Quarters. 

“I really, really want to see high-rise development [in the Quarters]," she said. 

"We’re working on it. We could go in there in full force and blast all those cars out of there. It would be a lot of effort, but we have to be cognizant of the economy. Dealing with what’s happening on the land just doesn’t make it feasible for a developer to come in and build a high-rise.” 

Debrinski said the only legal lot — which faces Jasper Avenue — was allowed because it won a Court of Queens Bench ruling to operate surface parking. 

Coun. Scott McKeen said surface lots are a “drain on vibrancy,” but noted the city must strike a balance.

“We don’t want to take away everyone’s parking — that would be ridiculous,” he said. “You want to see surface parking absorbed by development.”

Debrinski said the city is also working on a new surface parking strategy, which will be outlined in a few months. 

“We have taken steps where we will not allow surface parking on city land within the Quarters,” Debrinski said. 

Two surface lots in the Quarters also stopped operating after the city told them they weren’t allowed, she added.

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