At Transportation Committee: Glebe Parking Study and 170 Second Ave Parking Garage

I'm about to speak this into the record at today's Transportation Committee meeting, give or take a verbal tick or two. If you'd like to read the full staff report here it is. There are additional documents if you visit the agenda and scroll down to the "GLEBE" agenda item.


I am here to speak in favour of Recommendation 2, staff's recommendation that the city adopt a single, city-wide, on-street parking policy that ties parking fees to supply and demand. Staff have provided an excellently researched rationale for why such a system is fair, inexpensive, and effective. I encourage you to vote yes on Recommendation 2 and direct staff to research how Ottawa could implement demand-pricing for on-street parking.

I am also here to speak against Recommendations 3 and 4, which result in $8 million being spent on a parking garage our professional transportation staff have concluded we do not need. Our staff have just concluded an up-to-date parking study and the mathematical conclusion is: we do not need this garage until 2031. There is no question that Lansdowne will alter the parking situation in the Glebe, but $8 million is a lot to spend, on the chance we'll need it before 2031. Maybe after Lansdowne we'll need the garage - but perhaps not until 2025, or 2020. Either way, it is prudent to wait. The city can use $8 million on things we know we need - instead of on things we might need. I encourage you to vote no on Recommendations 3 and 4.

The simple truth of parking is it's a challenging problem.

People are conditioned to expect parking right at their destination, in front of a business or their own home, or within one block - a distance that is close enough to feel "not far away". When spots are not available, psychological frustration grows the further away people need to park. This is a human condition - one I suffer from as much as anyone else.

I bike more than I drive, and I can tell you I'm as annoyed as any driver if my preferred bike rack is full and I have to walk 100 feet to the next one. It is irrational, but predictable, and I'm here to encourage you to follow the rational advice contained in this staff report.

When the supply of available spots drops below 15% or 10% of the total, people perceive the situation as hopeless and do two things: start parking illegally and demand the creation of more parking close to their destination. These are natural reactions -- and undoubtedly you hear demands for more parking from residents.

The problem is, creating more parking supply at a price that is too low, guarantees it will fill up and we're back where we started - minus $8 million dollars. This is why the price for parking must be tied to market demand. Only then can the city guarantee that there is always a spot available for those who are in a hurry, or have no option other than to park.

Many Glebe BIA members are, understandably, challenged with their understanding of parking. The survey they answered showed they would prefer cheaper parking and less enforcement. With respect, that is absurd. If the city followed that direction it guarantees there would be no empty spots in the Glebe, anywhere, ever, at any time. Complaints would continue.

The survey does show that the major complaint is the lack of available parking. Customers' first complaint is they could not find a place to park. They are not complaining that they could not find a place to park for free. When the city moves to demand-priced parking customers will be able to find spots that are acceptably close for a reasonable price.

This is true whether the city proceeds with a garage at 170 Second Avenue or not.

My recommendation to you is to proceed with Recommendation 2 and direct staff to formulate a demand-priced parking strategy. I also recommend you defer the construction of a parking garage at 170 Second Avenue, saving $8 million, until any impact from Lansdowne can be measured with certainty.

It is my expectation that staff's demand-pricing system for on-street parking, if implemented in the Glebe before Lansdowne is completed, could further defer the need for a garage at 170 Second Avenue.