For the last year or so the City of Toronto has been doing a review of parking requirements for new developments. This would include things like how much car and bike parking needs to be provided for each residential unit in a new building. More information on this work can be found here.
City staff are now preparing to release their initial findings and, as I understand it, it is going to include the removal of most minimum parking standards across the city and the introduction of some maximum parking standards. What this should mean is that in most cases you can build as little parking as you want, but in some cases you’ll be stopped from building too much of it.
There are lots of examples of other cities doing this. Buffalo is one example and I recently wrote (over here) about what happened to new developments once its minimums were eliminated. Among other things, it revealed where the previous parking requirements were overshooting what the market was actually demanding.
Urban parking is heavily dilutive to new developments. It drives up the cost of new housing. It is also hypocritical to claim that we want to encourage alternative forms of mobility while at the same time mandating that we build a certain amount of car parking. Do we want people to drive or do we want people to do other things? Which is it?
Some will bemoan this inevitable loss of parking (though it was already happening). But I think this is a great thing. It is Toronto growing up and continuing to realize that it’s pretty damn hard to build a big and well-functioning global city if everyone is driving around everywhere. Maybe one day we’ll even allow e-scooters.
Developers should not be able to pocket the cost avoidance money associated with reduced parking. I’ve read you bemoan the length and cost of construction so often in this blog. Developers do not have to pass this saving onto the purchasers. As such, there should be a charge for the parking they don’t have to build that would go directly to public transit. Why should they get a “free ride”?
It is interesting to see this happening again. When I practiced way way back in the 80s and 90s I recall the city counting all the empty unused parking spaces that existed even then with the objective of resetting parking requirements. And that was many years before Uber and carshare programs etc. etc.
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