Expanding Paid Residential Parking Permit Zones

parking, parking permits, downtown Kingston, Kingston, OntarioWhile free on street parking is available on many residential streets in the central area of the city, most of these streets have time of day regulations during the week. These regulations are designed to keep drivers from leaving their car in one spot for an entire day which, according to The City of Kingston website, can lead to overcrowding on residential streets. In 2013, the city took things a step further with the Residential Parking Permit Pilot Program in the Sydenham Ward, charging drivers to use the spaces. The program consists of:

  • adding time-of-day restrictions to restrict parking for a period of time in the morning and afternoon (such as no parking between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Monday to Friday) to restrict all-day parkers.
  • issuing a limited number of permits to exempt parkers from these restrictions.

This limited number of permits is placed in two categories: Commuter Permits and Residential Permits. Commuter permits range in price from $80.85-$121.28, depending on demand and proximity to certain businesses and institutions. It isn’t clear on the City of Kingston website if this is a monthly rate, but since Residential Permits are listed as $30 per month, it stands to reason that this can be assumed.

The City has recently announced plans to further expand the Parking Permit Program. Other neighbourhoods set to be affected by these parking changes include streets surrounding Queen’s, The Tett and The Bader, The KRock Centre, OHIP and Providence Manor. All areas are outlined on this map provided by The City.

As a resident of Area C, I do have some concerns about the new parking terms. While I have a parking spot on my property, I work from home and have many people coming and going on a daily basis during the week. This new system will now require me to spend close to $400 a year to allow my students to park on my street. There is also the question of what will happen to all those cars that normally line our roads for KRock Centre events. And what about families who visit their loved ones at Providence Manor?

When we first examined the new permit project in 2013, we referenced an article that clearly illustrates why free parking is not good for a city. A quick recap tells us:

  • Parking spaces are bad for the environment (e.g. heat and runoff).
  • “Free” parking costs you money; parking spaces represent lost tax revenue.
  • Parking is the most voracious devourer of some of the most valuable land in a city.
  • Free parking encourages bad behavior (e.g. drunk driving and circling the block).
  • Cities are missing out on huge revenues by not charging fair market rate for in-demand parking spaces.
  • Smart parking meters can reduce traffic by eliminating the need to circle the block.

While these are perfectly valid and understandable reasons to eliminate free parking, The City of Kingston cites the following reasoning behind the program:

The on-street parking program discourages all-day parkers from overcrowding residential streets in a high-demand neighbourhood. A large number of commuters can take up on-street spots all day on streets that do not have time of day restrictions. These users are typically commuters who work in the vicinity of an institution or a business where parking is in high demand. This creates parking challenges for area residents and their short-term visitors’ parking needs. The on-street program is designed to address these concerns.

While I did mention the KRock Centre parking that lines our street for a few evening hours once per month or so, I don’t really see overcrowding as a problem in my ward. Speaking with neighbours, the consensus seems to be that parking is never a problem for themselves or their guests.

Whether you live in one of the affected areas or you park downtown regularly, this week we want to know:

What do you think is driving the expansion of permit parking in downtown Kingston?

  • Money (90%, 854 Votes)
  • Sustainability (8%, 77 Votes)
  • Overcrowding (2%, 21 Votes)
  • Something else (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 953

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It is important to note that there are certain exceptions to the permits. Residents are not required to purchase permits if they are able to work within the time limitations; temporary passes are available for $12/week for visitors, and one day exemptions are available free of charge by emailing contactus@cityofkingston.ca.

So, what do you think? Is this move by The City a necessity or do you see it as a cash grab? Are residents living in the affected neighbourhoods simply crying NIMBY or do you see this as yet another hit to our already challenging parking situation in the downtown core? Drop off your comments below.

Thanks to tyle_r for today’s photo.

 

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