CANMORE, Alta – Non-Canmore residents who were hoping to be part of the Town’s paid parking program will be out of luck for 2022.
Town council voted against having a pass for non-residents to allow for data to be collected to see how many out-of-town workers park downtown, but also after it heard from staff it would take to 2023 to implement such a program as well as see additional costs and staff time.
Data collected during the first summer of the program will return to council in November when it decides on the money that will be allocated to the Downtown BIA from paid parking.
Coun. Joanna McCallum noted some people will likely be upset, but that the Town has worked considerably in amending the program to include resident passes, delayed it for two years, worked with other municipalities, taken lessons from Banff and it’s time to have the program be put into action.
“Right now what we need to do is run the program because many of the answers to these questions will be revealed because anything we get is going to be an estimate and forecasting,” she said.
The original motion would have had staff return to the July meeting with data on non-resident parking use as well as gaining information from the Downtown BIA on how many non-residents work downtown.
Coun. Wade Graham echoed McCallum in that there have been a number of delays and changes to the program, so it’s important to see how the first summer works before more tinkering could potentially be done.
“The amount of information we would’ve got back in a month would’ve been suspect,” he said. “I think actually running the program and actually getting real data and seeing where this program will be is much more valuable to me than some fairly preliminary data right at the footsteps of launching this program.”
Town staff emphasized that there are about 250 parking spots – as well as a further 100 behind the Home Hardware – that is less than a 10-minute walk from the downtown core that will have nine-hour free parking. Handicapped stalls and loading zones, will continue to remain free.
While paid parking is set to start later in June, the hope is people will continue to use the free parking spots, the Town’s manager of engineering Andy Esarte said.
Danielle Liwanag, the Town’s paid parking coordinator, told council they’re completing a parking utilization study in the downtown, neighbouring streets to the Town centre and Quarry Lake to get data on use. They’ll continue to do further studies once paid parking begins to see which spots are being used.
Town staff recommended not moving forward with a non-resident employee monthly pass, which largely impacts residents of Banff or the Municipal District of Bighorn who work in Canmore.
A staff report noted the recommendation follows the guidelines of the Town’s Integrated Parking Management Plan and aligns with the Town of Banff’s paid parking program that was introduced last year.
It stated to add non-resident employees to the pass option would see an additional $7,500 in software development and take until 2023 to complete. Town staff would also have to approve and check if the applicants are employed in Canmore, according to the report.
A monthly pass for non-residents – which would cost $144 a month in peak season and $96 in the off-peak season – was also recommended against by staff as well as the ability of non-residents being added by their employers.
Areas along Fairholme Drive, 7th Avenue and the panhandle at Elevation Place will remain free parking.
Businesses with a licence from the Town can also register company vehicles for a resident parking pass.
Paid parking is outlined in the Town’s Integrated Parking Management Plan, which emphasizes encouraging alternative forms of transit, ensuring high-use areas have a high value use and optimizing existing spots.
The Town launched the online registration portal Thursday (June 2) for residents to register vehicles.
As of Wednesday (June 8) at 1 p.m., there are 2,200 residents registered, according to the Town.
Residents registering for the program will be able to park for up to three hours for free each day.
A monthly parking pass is also available for $83 a month from May 1 to Oct. 31 and $41.50 the remainder of the year – plus a $1.25 processing fee for the pass – but doesn’t guarantee a parking spot.
The pass was established following a Downtown BIA delegation in April asking to help employees and employers who work downtown. It permits parking for up to 72 hours.
When the paid parking program launches, the peak season rates of May 15 to Oct. 14 will be $3 an hour and Oct. 15 to May 14 will be $2 an hour. The hours will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The new Quarry Lake paid parking program will begin in late June and cost $10 for every two hours from May 15 to Oct. 14. From Oct. 15 to May 14, it will be $2.50 an hour.
Mayor Sean Krausert said he’s had several meetings with Bighorn Reeve Lisa Rosvold about paid parking being made to help the Town’s mode shift objectives and has had similar conversations with the various community associations in Bighorn.
There have also been initial meetings with the MD and Roam transit to potentially join the public transit fold.
“None of that is a quick fix. None of that is going to happen overnight and I certainly appreciate the openness of the MD council to consider participating in public transit as previous councils were not as open to that conversation,” Krausert said.
He noted the paid parking program has been contentious, but it has been developed over the past two years and improved from its original guidelines after learning from Quarry Lake and the Town of Banff.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel with paid parking because we’re certainly going to be able to handle it just as thousands and thousands of municipalities across the world have,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re as responsive as possible to our particular situation.”