It appears several thousand Calgarians will soon have to pay if they want to park on their street. But the fees won't be as high as previously planned.
The city's revamped residential permit parking program will still go ahead. The annual fees are being dropped by 40 per cent.
Earlier this year, there was public outcry and concern from many city council members about the cost of the permits.
Previously, homeowners in certain high-demand parking areas were given two free permits for their vehicles and free visitor permits.
The owners of vehicles in those areas who didn't have their licence plates registered with the parking authority were issued tickets for parking on the street.
To cover the cost of running the program and to conform with its user fees policy, the city wants to switch to a system where it charges residents $30 annually for a vehicle, $45 for a second car and $70 for a third set of wheels.
Visitor permits would cost $45 annually.
There was confusion among Calgarians about where the permits would be required.
Over the years, council has created residential parking zones in many communities. However, parking permits aren't required across those entire zones.
More than 500 requests for reviews of where the permit program would apply flooded in this year.
The city says it has completed reviews on 400 of those requests.
In 98 per cent of the cases, parking restrictions have been changed so permits will not be required.
As a result, the permit program is smaller and requires less administration and enforcement. And the fees that are collected to cover the cost of the program are being lowered.
Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said the earlier confusion about residential parking should now be cleared up. (Mike Symington/CNC)
Coun. Sonya Sharp said a new map on the city's website clarifies exactly where the program applies and should ease concerns about who needs to pay for permits.
"When this first came out, it was like every Calgarian was up in arms because now they had to pay for permits. We've honed in on where these increases would apply if passed by council," the Ward 1 councillor said.
Sharp said she is concerned about the additional costs coming in the midst of troubled economic times for many people. Council will vote on the new fee structure during its budget debate in late November.
While the news about reduced fees will be welcomed by some citizens, Coun. Courtney Walcott said the program changes ensure that the people who benefit from having access to parking in congested areas are the ones paying for it — not all Calgarians.
He said the fees are being lowered by using the fine revenue from tickets issued for illegal parking.
"What they did was, the revenue that would traditionally come from enforcement, that used to go into the city. Now that revenue is circling back directly into this program and paying for its own enforcement," said Walcott, who represents Ward 8.
The first annual permits will be required in February. Registration takes place in the 60-day period prior to the permits taking effect. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)
Some council members would like the program to allow residents to park one vehicle in front of their house without any fee.
Administration said it investigated that option but ruled it out as doing so would significantly boost permit costs for subsequent vehicles.
It estimated those fees could be $200 a year for a second vehicle, $375 for a third one and $200 a year for a second visitor permit.
Once council approves the new fees, Calgarians in affected areas would begin paying the annual charge either when they renew their existing permits or ask to be added to the voluntary program.
The first annual permits will be required in February 2024. Registration takes place in the 60-day period prior to the permits taking effect.
There were over 53,000 residential permits as of October 2023. Two-thirds of those were for residents' vehicles, while the other one-third were for visitor permits.
Between reducing the areas where permits are required and people who might not renew permits due to the fees, the city estimated the number of permits will drop below 27,000 under the new system.
The city said Calgary is joining the ranks of many Canadian cities that charge for residential parking in congested or high-demand areas like those near transit stations, downtown or major facilities like hospitals and universities.
Some examples of the annual fees in other cities include: Vancouver $52-404, Winnipeg $25, Ottawa $733, Toronto $235-1,035 and Halifax $75-175.