As many have discovered during the era of closed bars, malls, and movie theatres - there’s nothing greater than the great outdoors. Unfortunately, for those wishing to hang out in nature this summer, Edmonton plans to introduce paid parking.
Mike Nickel, city councillor for Edmonton ward 11 and mayoral candidate, shared the information to Facebook on Wednesday the 16th. “Want to visit your favourite park? … The City of Edmonton wants to introduce paid parking the next time you visit.”
Nickel added that for lower-income families, visiting a park on a warm summer day is “an excellent outing”. With the added cost of parking - this may no longer be an option for families on a strict activity budget.
“I will not support these proposed changes,” Nickel wrote.
The proposal contradicts the downtown-based project for local business and economic recovery via Stage 4 of the province’s “Path Forward,” which offers free 30-minute parking for curbside ePark zones in Edmonton. While supporting local businesses is essential, so is access to affordable or free outdoor activities.
After being cooped up without classes or activities for a long winter, many families rely on free outdoor fun to keep kids stimulated.
The city has announced paid parking at five other city sites beginning next summer. Paid parking will be implemented at locations such as Emily Murphy Park, Rafters’ Landing, Muttart Conservatory, Fort Edmonton Park and the Telus World of Science. The changes are justified through the city’s “Reimagine Services” work which is attempting to save $6 million over the next five years. Hawrelak Park may also add paid parking as early as 2026 if the program is a financial success for the city.
Edmonton residents with an “accessible parking” card and school groups will be exempt from the new parking fees.
Councillor Jon Dziadyk told TBT:
Edmontonians have been cooped up in their homes during COVID and we should be encouraging them to visit our parks, not making them pay. This is not an appropriate way to generate revenue. For many families, their summer vacation will be a visit to our parks, and we should not make access more difficult. I will be actively fighting to make sure that these parking lots remain free and open to the public. This proposal shows misplaced priorities.