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April 04, 2021

Link parking rates more closely to demand: report

Parking costs are on the rise in most major North American cities as officials grapple with reduced revenue and the political challenges in raising taxes.

Rates across Canada are generally higher with Calgary in the priciest spot at $456 a month, according to a recent survey by Colliers International.

Of the 12 major Canadian cities surveyed, Montreal was deemed the second-most expensive city to park in with a cost of $330 a month, on average – a 12% year-over-year increase. Toronto ($316), Edmonton ($295) and Vancouver ($277) round out the top five most costly Canadian cities.

There's a stack of of variables that go into parking demand, including the price of gasoline and the availability of mass transit. But generally the biggest factor is downtown office vacancy rates. The more office workers looking for space, the greater the demand for parking.

That's why the City of Ottawa is considering shifting its parking rates based on how often spaces are used.

Such a pricing program would nudge parking meter prices up or down throughout the year, based on usage surveys. If there’s a demand that exceeds capacity, the parking rates might increase to free up spaces. Rates would drop if the supply is more than the demand at a specific time.

That's a significant departure from the city’s usual policy of managing parking demand by keeping the prices of street spaces the same and simply varying the amount of time drivers are allowed to pay for.

The program is another test of the theories of UCLA professor Donald Shoup whose book, The High Cost of Free Parking, has risen to cult status among city planners.

Are you in favour of dynamic pricing when it comes to parking? Have you seen any such changes where you live?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...