“The Power Of Parking” City releases discussion paper rethinking parking in Kingston

June 1, 2021

The City’s Department of Planning Services has released a unique new Discussion Paper entitled “The Power of Parking: A New Parking Paradigm for Kingston?” The Paper, now online, starts and supports an important new public conversation about how parking powerfully affects every aspect of how the city is built. It includes big, strategic new ideas that could lead to a potentially very different approach to how parking is regulated in the City’s upcoming new Zoning Bylaw.

We need this candid, new conversation across our city about the critical role that parking plays, and more specifically our parking regulations play, in the success or failure of our vital public interest goals,” says Paige Agnew, Commissioner, Community Services. “The goal is to change the way everyone looks at parking in our city.”

Those key public goals include: climate change and pollution mitigation; improved affordability; better social equity; lower public infrastructure costs; a healthier post-pandemic economic recovery; and more inviting, healthy and sustainable choices around how we live and get around.

“The usual challenge with talking about parking, in Kingston or in any city, is that such conversations are usually really boring, overly technical and over-complicated, plus almost entirely disconnected from the city’s larger visions and goals,” says planning consultant and co-author Brent Toderian.

“We want to directly ‘connect the dots’ between parking and those big important city goals for the first time, and discuss innovative new ideas and options, learning from and potentially inspiring cities across Ontario and Canada, in a simple and easily understandable way,” says Laura Flaherty, Project Manager, Planning Services.

“There are few things we could do as a city that would have a bigger effect on whether we achieve Council’s strategic priorities than reconsidering how we do parking. Priorities like the City’s goal to become ‘the most sustainable city in Canada,’ addressing Council’s Climate Change Emergency Declaration, and supporting the affordability recommendations from the Mayors Task Force on Housing,” says Agnew.

The Paper examines the “true cost of parking,” including the many public costs and consequences of providing too much parking. For example, too much parking significantly raises the cost and reduces the affordability of housing; actually encourages more car ownership and driving; significantly increases the GHG emissions and pollution from both driving and building construction; and makes designing better streets and neighbourhoods with more choices for people much harder.

Although the Paper doesn’t make final recommendations, changes or decisions on its own, it starts the discussion on important ideas like reducing or even eliminating parking minimums; creating parking maximums to prevent too much parking; using parking incentives to achieve smart, strategic outcomes like better and more secure bike parking, carshare spaces, and electric vehicle plug-in infrastructure; and creating a new framework for accessible spaces while ensuring accessible parking isn’t reduced.

The public can speak about this paper at a special public meeting of Planning Committee scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 23. Meetings are held virtually on the Zoom platform, with a call-in option available. Meetings are also live streamed on YouTube. Learn more on the Planning Committee webpage. Residents can also share questions and comments online at Get Involved Kingston.