The possibility of paid parking at Airdrie's new multi-use facility and library was discussed at Tuesday's Community and Corporate Services Standing Committee. Ultimately recommendations from a report presented to the committee advised against paid parking. 

Clay Aragon, Social Planner with the City who presented to the committee said that questions surrounding paid parking centred on whether it could be a source of revenue.

"Other questions that have come up were how will the city manage underground parking to promote turnover of parking spaces, so people don't monopolize and use parking all day. How will the city manage parking spaces so that visitors and customers are prioritized as opposed to City and library staff monopolizing parking?" Aragon stated.

Colliers International was sought out to conduct a parking benchmarking study which compared several municipalities and their initiatives around parking. 

adaA benchmark parking assessment was presented to the  Community and Corporate Services Standing Committee on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of paid parking at Airdrie's new multi-use library and facility. (Graphic credit to The City of Airdrie)

According to Aragon, the municipalities selected for comparison were based on similar demographics, population size and density and whether or not they had comparable multi-use type facilities and a library close to or in their downtown.

"For Lethbridge and Red Deer, we have found, [they] had paid parking in the downtown, while St. Albert and Grand Prairie have not implemented any kind of paid parking system," Aragon said. "Of the municipalities that have multi-use facilities and/or libraries in their downtown, only Grand Prairie's Montrose Cultural Center had underground parking at 88 stalls compared to our air the proposed parking in the new multi-use facility at 100 stalls."

Colliers found that there are no paid parking facilities physically attached to a library, cultural center or public event space in the downtown of any of the municipalities that were analyzed.

"Libraries are generally considered universal access facilities and paid parking is often seen as a barrier to use for lots of residents from those municipalities. Red Deer and Lethbridge have instituted paid parking in the downtown core; both municipalities have parking operators, inspectors and enforcement to manage paid parking systems. It's not a substantial source of revenue based on our conversations with them, but they use it to offset parking management costs."

He also added that municipalities that have implemented a paid parking system recommended that if Airdrie were to move forward on the initiative, The City would need to have a clear vision and purpose as to the paid parking.

"One of the things that they shared is that below-grade, weather-protected parking stalls are going to be in high demand, and it will require some sort of management from the city to ensure that it's not being monopolized all day," Aragon said. "The last piece that they've shared was that after COVID-19, downtown parking [which] even included in the downtown parts of Calgary; utilization has dropped dramatically."

Aragon underlined that according to Colliers recommendations, there is enough parking on the multi-use facility site and surrounding areas.

"Having a parking management department is resource intensive and if future demands change, staff will explore parking systems options. We're going to put in time-limited parking and the multi-use facility site, specifically around the surface parking and the parade to understand how long people parking is and to encourage turnover for people to not monopolize parking."

One of Colliers other recommendations stated that in a year or so after the new library opens, there is potential to conduct a broader downtown parking study.

"Downtown revitalization and long-range planning are planning on doing that in the next year. The study will focus on a particular focus on downtown and administration will consider creating a parking strategy that identifies the vision, principles and goals related to parking in the medium and long term for the downtown." 

Councillor Ron Chapman said the entire idea was non-sensical, stating that it made little sense to charge for parking but also have to then spend money on enforcement. 

"We're trying to get people to come to our downtown. I find it to be counterintuitive; to charge him for parking to come downtown," he remarked. "Where do we draw the line? What about Genesis Place? What about the Ron Ebbesen arena?"

Deputy Mayor Al Jones also said that a paid parking initiative would be not something he would support, adding that he was interested in what would happen when the inclement weather and how that influences parking behaviours.

"If we just simply put up some signs in the underground part, that just simply said, two-hour maximum, because nobody's going to hang out in the library longer than two hours; then they will be cognizant of that," he added. "I'm not saying we reinforce it, but just signage alone, I think would deter people from abusing it."

Deputy Major Jones also echoed Councillor Chapman's sentiments, stating that the goal of a library is for it to be accessible and paid parking would go directly against that idea.

Councillor Heather Spearman also agreed with other councillor members with regards to paid parking being unnecessary but asked whether there is a strategy to encourage people to come to the facility using alternative modes of transportation.

"Was part of this study about making sure that there were bike racks and maybe there could be a tire pumping mechanism beside it, so people are encouraged to bring their bikes and use alternative methods of transportation whenever possible? Are we looking at inside the building? [Is there] ample stroller parking; things like that maybe would encourage people to come to the space on foot as opposed to by the car?"

Aragon explained that the design of the new multi-use facility has those particular elements of accessibility all those elements of accessibility.

"[Those] were taken into account as part of the design; bike racks are going to be available for residents to use the connectivity to the pathway system from the back end. Part of the broader strategy is looking into alternate forms of transportation and how we encourage that," he said. 

Airdrie's new multi-use library and facility is slated to be opened in 2025. A name for the facility has yet to be chosen

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to You can also message and follow us on Twitter: @AIR1061FM

DiscoverAirdrie encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverAirdrie app. For breaking news, weather and contest alerts click here