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Torontonians get ready: Your parking rates could go up

Harry Kitchen, a professor emeritus in economics at Trent University, says increasing prices is the best way to deal with a congestion problem in downtown Toronto.

City of Toronto is looking to raise parking fees.

Eduardo Lima / Metro

City of Toronto is looking to raise parking fees.

Torontonians will pay more to park if proposals from the Toronto Parking Authority are approved.

The increases to Green P lots and on-street parking generally range from 15 to 25 per cent, but a handful of particularly in-demand lots will see rates jump by up to 50 per cent.

"2016 was an extremely busy year," said Ian Maher, TPA's vice-president of strategic planning. "It was probably the biggest increase in parking demand we've had."

Maher said that's partially due to the popular TPA mobile app.

The TPA conducts annual reviews and adjusts prices accordingly. Its studies look at demand for parking, competition at nearby lots, prices in other cities and the last time local prices were changed.

This year's proposed changes would result in $3.5 million in additional city revenue from Green P parking lots. The amount of additional revenue from on-street parking will likely be contained in a report going before the Government Management Committee on Sept. 25. Council will then consider the on-street parking proposal on Oct. 2, but the TPA has the final say on Green P rates.

All of the hourly Green P lot increases are either 25 or 50 cents per hour. The biggest percentage increase sees the hourly rate go from $1 to $1.50 on Broadview Avenue north of Queen St. E.

The TPA recommends its top tier of on-street parking increase from $4 to $5 per hour, its second tier increase from $3 to $4 and its third tier increase from $2.25 to $3. The fourth tier would stay at $2 and the bottom two tiers, $1.50 and $1, would be consolidated into a $1 tier.

Maher explained that changing prices helps the TPA meets its objectives.

"The prices move the lever on demand," he said.

With Green P lots, the TPA aims to serve drivers who need short-term parking for up to three or four hours, which is meant to support local businesses. Increasing prices at some locations should make the lots less attractive for commuters, thus increasing available spaces for short-term parking.

Harry Kitchen, a professor emeritus in economics at Trent University, agrees with the approach.

"I think the whole notion of raising parking pricing is right," he said.

People may grumble about it, he explained, but based on his reading of the literature, the best way to handle a congestion problem is to control it through pricing.

"Let's face it: there are too many cars in downtown Toronto," he said.

Luxury lots

Neighbourhoods that will see the biggest increases include the Danforth, Beach, Kingsway, Bloor West Village and midtown Yonge.

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