‘A good way to destroy a vibrant community’: Parking changes will shut out many inner city residents

Rules governing on-street parking are changing for inner city residents, meaning many of them will no longer qualify for a permit allowing them to leave their car parked on the street near their homes.

Anthony Wecels lives in Mission, in a six storey condo just off Fourth Street southwest. He’s called the neighbourhood home for close to two decades, but says the changes may force him and his wife to move out of the area.

“I love this community been here 17, almost 18 years. It’s really a fun area, and now it’s actually in my mind that I’m going to have to sell my property,” said Wecels.

Wecels requires a ‘J’ permit to legally park his car on the street near his home. His wife parks her car in the one stall provided with their condo.

Under a plan that takes effect in 2023 residents in buildings more than four storeys high, or which have over 20 units will be ineligible for on street parking permits.

Wecels says the change will diminish the value of his home.

“I pose the question; would you buy a property if you had a vehicle where you couldn’t park your car?” said Wecels “Honestly, it’s baffling. I don’t see a reason why they would be wanting to do something like this. Maybe to free up additional parking. But for the people who actually live in the community, it’s going to be difficult.”

The plan was approved by the previous city council.

UNSYMPATHETIC

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra is one of the few still sitting from that group. Carra is unsympathetic to the plight of residents like Wecels, saying when it comes to on-street parking, many inner city residents have had it too good, for too long.

“The point is that we have been deeply subsidizing a very small set of Calgarians to have exclusive use of the public realm, in allowing them to park their stuff,” said Carra. “We’ve built a city over the years, that deeply subsidizes perverse choices, and we’re trying to be smarter about how we grow. We’re trying to be smarter about how and where we park and how we use the public realm, and really support things like patios and businesses.”

But other inner city councillors, elected just last year, don’t like the plan.

“We’ve heard from a number of our constituents and communities that they think it’s unfair, they take a look at the fact that whether you’re in the inner city core or in suburban areas, a lot of people park for free in front of their house,” said Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong.

Wong says it’s important to balance the needs of business and Calgarians at large, but residents who’ve moved to an area with parking shouldn’t have the privilege removed.

“If you bought into that property, you’ve lived in that property, you’ve had that quiet enjoyment, we want to, you know, continue that.”

Earlier in March city council voted to allow residents who still qualify under the existing rules, and who do not have permits, to apply for the two year passes until Dec. 31.

While that’s a reprieve, it doesn’t quell the concerns of residents like Wecels.

“(It’s) a good way to destroy a vibrant community and city,” said Wecels. “I think it’s going to have an extremely detrimental impact.”

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