Parking revenue for downtown Edmonton hasn’t panned out

Edmonton city council will review a report that shows the forecast for how much revenue could be brought in from on-street parking for major events at Rogers Place has fallen $6 million short.

The report that council will debate at its meeting Tuesday estimated $2.5 million would be generated each year to pay off an $80-million mortgage on the $600-million Rogers Place arena project.

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“However, revenue for on-street parking, off-street parking and parking enforcement is $6.2 million lower than the $30.3 million projected in the consultant’s analysis,” the report said for the four years from 2015-2018.

Councillor Jon Dziadyk sees bike lanes as being one problem.

“A lot of people don’t want to come downtown because of the bike lanes,” he said in an interview.

“That makes getting downtown by vehicle more difficult so people are choosing to come here less.”

The report points to bike lanes taking away parking spots, however Dziadyk said it’s more than that. Anecdotally, he said people from his part of town seem to be avoiding downtown.

“They’re people that might not have been coming downtown too frequently before but now it’s just harder to get here, with some of the turning movements changing — no right hand turns — that frustrates some people and then just finding (on-street) parking is an issue.”

Councillor Scott McKeen thinks the problem is bigger than that and will eventually be resolved when construction on the Ice District and the Valley Line LRT eases up.

“Have you noticed the construction?” he asked reporters.

“I don’t think we can judge such things as parking or people that are going to drive into the downtown or not until we get the renovations done. It is a huge hassle.”

“I think bike lanes probably did take out some metered revenue but I’m skeptical that that is a major problem.”

The report now forecasts that parking revenue won’t rebound because of competition so it suggests diverting more Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) revenue to pay down the arena’s mortgage.

“The new Ice District Central Parkade constructed by the Katz Group opened 1,082 underground parking spaces to the public in October, with an additional 1,100 spaces to be available in 2019. In addition, the 504 parking spaces in Edmonton Tower being in very close proximity to Roger Place may further impact the city’s future parking revenues,” said the report.

“For this reason, parking revenues are not a sustainable funding source for repayment of principal and interest related to $45.6 million of self-supporting tax-guaranteed debt.”

“Apparently City Hall itself, the parkade, is not full at all,” said McKeen.

“So we want to look at why Edmontonians don’t use parkades. We know the EPCOR parkade is empty on concert and game nights. The Oilers Entertainment Group invested quite a bit of money to get people into an underground parkade that they built.”

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