Due to a growing pile of unfinished business, Vancouver City Council will convene at an irregular time to get through the topics and make some decisions. In this post we have a look at Item 4 on the agenda for City Council which is scheduled to start at 3:30 pm on September 29, 2020 (agenda/docs/instructions click here). It is a motion (link to PDF online), coming forward now after having been postponed.
MOTION: Open Option Parking Policy – Removing On-Site Parking Minimum Requirements
by Councillor Kirby-Yung
Full text of the motion is copied further below. The punchline is having “Council direct staff to explore the elimination of On-Site Parking Minimums in the City and the adoption of an Open Option Parking approach/policy to allow greater choice and flexibility for property owners, businesses and developers to better accommodate market changes, ensure parking supply and demand are aligned, meet loading and accessibility requirements, and increase the efficiency with which rezoning applications and development permit applications can be reviewed and approved by the City.”
So the motion is about reducing minimum requirements for on-site parking in new building construction. That is in contrast to on-street parking or commercial parking lots, for example.
Media have covered this motion to some extent, on the theme that there is apparently too much parking space in Vancouver, and on the assumptions (theoretical) that eliminating parking minimums would make housing more affordable, and reduce environmental impacts.
Here are some thoughts, questions, and observations on the topic (subject to additions/revisions):
- Parking availability is factor in livability and quality of life. Imagine any person at any stage of life and you can come up with concrete examples of how convenient access to vehicle parking is a factor. The lack of accessible parking is something that can lead to significant frustration and even conflict among people and in a community.
- We have concerns that the direction of this motion could result in yet another windfall for developers, saving them costs of construction, while there are questions about how to guarantee that cost savings would be passed on to reduce the cost of housing for residents.
- Parking is an important part of the infrastructure for new construction, whether for strata housing, “affordable” rental, or whatever.
- Most households have at least one vehicle and all of this cannot go on the street. To get personal, imagine your own life and imagine how would you function without a parking space.
- Rather than allowing exemptions from parking minimums across the board, perhaps they could be considered on certain clear criteria, case by case.
- Mobility and parking needs could change significantly due to COVID-19. A possible reduction in mass transit use by people who wish to avoid crowding could lead to a greater use of personal transport and mobility.
- Governments are promoting electric cars these days, and we can see a growing number of TESLA vehicles on the roads. They need to be charged somewhere. Buildings built in the coming years will need to have more parking to allow for charging, not less, if the shift to electric is to continue and increase.
MOTION TEXT. For proper formatting please download the original PDF. here https://council.vancouver.ca/20200916/documents/cfsc4.pdf
4. Open Option Parking Policy – Removing On-Site Parking Minimum Requirements
At the Council meeting on September 15, 2020, Council referred the following motion to the
Standing Committee on City Finance and Services meeting on September 16, 2020, in order to
hear from speakers.
Submitted by: Councillor Kirby-Yung
1. The City of Vancouver regulates off-street parking to balance the needs of
residents, commuters, and visitors. Parking By-law No. 6059 stipulates required
parking minimums that apply to vehicle parking spaces, loading spaces, bicycle
spaces, and passenger spaces;
2. On July 25, 2018, amendments to the Parking By-law were approved by Council
and came into effect January 1, 2019. These amendments included up to
30 percent parking reductions available to developers with submission of a
satisfactory Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan in accordance with
the City’s TDM Administrative Bulletin, (comprising of up to 10 percent reduction
for proximity to transit, and up to 20 percent reduction for TDM measures).
Additional reductions were also enabled for rental residential developments of up
to 60 percent;
3. Vancouver’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Policy provides
measures to prioritize more sustainable travel as part of rezoning and/or
development permit applications;
4. The City’s Climate Emergency Response aims to have two thirds of trips in
Vancouver made by active transportation and transit by 2030 – an update from
the City’s previous Transportation 2040 goal of achieving this by 2040;
5. The City’s Climate Emergency Response six big moves aim to reduce embodied
emissions from new buildings and construction projects by 40% by 2030
(compared to a 2018 baseline);
6. Construction of underground parking is a significant source of embodied carbon
emissions. Further, the costs of excavation and concrete construction ultimately
add to the cost of housing;
7. Recently, many North American cities that have experienced growth have started
to reassess their transportation, housing, and environmental priorities. Seattle is
one such city, where changes to parking minimums were made in 2012 and
again in 2018. On-site parking minimums are now seen as a barrier to achieving
the walkable, compact, urban environments many cities aspire toward in the
21st Century and beyond;
END PAGE 1
8. Most recently the City of Edmonton – where on-site parking minimum policies
have led to a 50 percent oversupply of on-site parking – opted to completely
eliminate parking minimums under an Open Option Parking approach, whereby
the amount of on-site parking to be supplied for new developments will be
determined by the property owner or business based on their needs and
9. Open Option Parking does not mean that zero or no on-site parking will be built
as part of any given development (although it is possible in some cases with the
exception of requirements for accessible parking and loading). An Open Option
Parking policy merely allows greater choice and flexibility for property owners,
developers and businesses to respond to market demand and to better
accommodate market changes while retaining adequate space for loading and
deliveries, visitors, service providers, and accessible parking needs;
10. Adoption of an Open Option Parking policy in the City of Vancouver would
require that a number of related issues be addressed in a coordinated manner in
order to mitigate potential adverse impacts. For example, implementing
measures to better regulate curbside parking spaces and laneways in areas with
open option requirements to prevent parking spillover (i.e. to keep future
residents from simply parking on the street), while also strengthening
Transportation Demand Management requirements to reduce demand for private
motor vehicle parking and encourage sustainable transportation choices;
11. Ideally, an Open Option Parking Policy should include measures to monitor how
community needs shift and change over time to ensure that there are no barriers
to access for residents or patrons, as well as consider implementing maximum
parking allowances to align with the City’s Climate Emergency goals and ensure
that developers don’t create an oversupply of parking; and
12. If successfully adopted and implemented in the City of Vancouver, with flexibility
to meet the changing needs of residents and patrons over the long-term (e.g.
mobility vehicles, etc.), an Open Option Parking policy could lead to improved
development processes by ensuring parking supply and demand are aligned. An
Open Option Parking policy would also increase the efficiency with which
rezoning applications and development permit applications can be reviewed and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
A. THAT Council direct staff to explore the elimination of On-Site Parking Minimums
in the City and the adoption of an Open Option Parking approach/policy to allow
greater choice and flexibility for property owners, businesses and developers to
better accommodate market changes, ensure parking supply and demand are
aligned, meet loading and accessibility requirements, and increase the efficiency
with which rezoning applications and development permit applications can be
reviewed and approved by the City.
B. THAT Council direct staff to report back by the end of Q4 with recommendations
for consideration toward the implementation of an Open Option Parking Policy,
including identifying all requisite by-law amendments that would need to be
END PAGE 2
enacted, with the report to include specific information as to how an Open Option
Parking Policy (including consideration of parking maximums) might support
greater housing affordability and the City’s Climate Emergency bold moves.
C. THAT staff be directed to consult with relevant stakeholders in the development
of an Open Option Parking Policy, including consultation with (but not limited to)
the City’s Accessibility Task Force, Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee
and Seniors Advisory Committee, including investigating questions such as
monitoring how community needs shift and change over time – to ensure that
there are no barriers to access for residents or business patrons that might arise
– and measures to manage curbside parking in order to control potential parking
overflow on to city streets.
Ensuring access for people with accessibility needs, loading and deliveries, service providers, and
visitors, is a vitally important consideration for an Open Option Parking policy. Visitor and service provider
parking has frequently been raised as a significant issue for persons with disabilities during prior