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City: Parking rates won't climb



Providing better access to the suburbs does encourage sprawl, and you're right that encouraging sprawl is bad. But recognize that downtown is not an isolated oasis that exists independantly of the rest of the GTA. Eliminate highly subsidized suburban transit, and the result would be freeways criss-crossing the entire city, and surface parking lots covering the entire downtown core. You could spend all that money on turning streetcar routes into subways, but the net result would be a tenfold increase in traffic downtown because the number of people who can access transit has just dropped 95%.

I could care less that GO, MT, or YRT require a much larger operating subsidy than the Queen streetcar. I could care less that GO is nothing more than the 401 on rails. The bang for the buck is less, however the net result is that these suburban transit systems are every bit as effective at reducing congestion and pollution as the TTC, and therefore deserve every bit as much funding.

Do I care that as a downtown resident my taxes are subsidizing GO? Absolutely not, because indirectly, GO improves my community substantially. Given that subsidization of the suburban lifestyle will occur anyway, I'm much more content to be subsidizing transit than I am the 500,000 parking spots and arterialization of my neighbourhood that would otherwise be needed.

Getting back to the original topic, I do think that parking fees should be increased. However like I said before, only do that if massive investments in suburban transit occur at the same time.


--Eliminate highly subsidized suburban transit, and the result would be freeways criss-crossing the entire city..--

Freeways generally have not, (or atleast should not), be built to deal with traffic congestion. The Liberal plans to crisscross the GTA with 'economic corridors' have to do with developing land for those land owners who are big political doners and to fill industrial parks. (When you have those 5,000 a plate fundraisers to run for office you need the support of the sprawl industry- land owners, developers, auto industry)
The suburban mayors all want their share of growth and can most quickly achieve it with conveniently placed highway extensions. Freeways, (like GO except Union station) spread growth outwards.

Likewise within the city. The Front street extension is essentially a 2 kilometre arm of the Gardiner, is not being built for any essential transportation purposes. Pantelone the main proponent of the project is publicly articulating the need to extend the grid, and that it's been on the books for decades and that any plan to take down the Gardiner requires the building of Front street.
I've previously explained how the above agruments make no sense and have uncovered the motivation said to be behind Pantalone's irrational goal. IBI who controlled developments in the Liberty Village area has always wanted the Front street extension (IBI in fact authored the latest Front Street extension study- designing the current route).
Pantelone agreed to work for the extension in order to get the developer to change their site plan more towards the city's liking. Pantelone, the area councillor, is currently the most influential person in the city next to Miller, and was able to change both Miller and Giambrone's positions from opposed to in favour of the extension. Freeways generally lead to pressure for more freeways as they make vehicle travel more attractive and other modes less attractive.
Back to parking requirements..

CLM Dr. Gridlock
SE Column
HD Parking standards driving force behind sprawl
WC 651 words
PD 20 February 2006
SN The Globe and Mail
CY All material copyright Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. or its licensors. All rights reserved.

Every North American city has them. But Donald Shoup, an American urban planning expert, compares city planners' “minimum parking standards†to 19th-century medicine's use of poisonous lead as a cure for disease.

For decades, planners have dictated to developers how many off-street parking spaces they needed to provide for new office buildings, restaurants, apartments and stores. Originally, they wanted to avoid the chaos of scores of automobiles with nowhere to park.

But Prof. Shoup, who teaches urban planning at the University of California in Los Angeles, argues in his book, The High Cost of Free Parking, that minimum parking standards turned out to be a cure worse than the disease, and a driving force of suburban sprawl.

Rigid rules on how many parking spaces new buildings required were based on “pseudo-science,†he argues. Urban planners imposed them arbitrarily, forcing developers to construct massive parking lots designed to accommodate the maximum possible demand.

Even if drivers don't pay for them each time they use them, parking spots at the mall or in a condo garage are never really free. Building a “structured†spot in an underground garage can cost more than $25,000. So minimum parking standards mean that city planners essentially force developers to subsidize drivers' parking needs, Prof. Shoup argues, and that means the costs are foisted onto non-driving customers.

The resulting glut of free parking has created seas of asphalt. And it has imposed a spread-out urban form that discourages pedestrians and makes public transit impractical. This, Prof. Shoup observes, simply forces more people into their cars.

“Cities would look and work much better if prices rather than planners govern most decisions about the quantity of parking,†Prof. Shoup writes. “Like the automobile itself, parking is a good servant, but a bad master.â€

Toronto's chief planner, Ted Tyndorf, says the city has realized that parking standards are part of the problem, and a massive review of the city's complex rules, as part of the rewriting of its zoning bylaws, should be completed this year.

Leaving aside the rules for businesses, Toronto's various zoning bylaws for residential buildings vary from demanding one space per unit up to two spaces per unit in parts of the city's former suburbs, depending on the type and size of the building in question.

However, the city already routinely lowers parking requirements for developments close to subway stations, Mr. Tyndorf said. And planners have persuaded developers in some cases to further reduce the amount of parking they plan to build, especially downtown.

“There's a bit of a push-pull going on,†Mr. Tyndorf said, as condo marketing departments remain “leery†of not having at least one parking space per unit.

But in some cases, condo developers are “unbundling†parking spaces from residential units, making customers pay extra for a space if they want one.

In one such case, a developer sold only about 70 per cent of the available spots, Mr. Tyndorf said. “That tells you that the market really doesn't call for as much parking as the marketing department thinks is necessary.â€

Still, outside the downtown, the old higher parking ratios largely remain. But even in those suburbs, attitudes are starting to change, says Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Scarborough Centre).

The bike-riding environmentalist says one of his top accomplishments on council this term was successfully pushing a developer, and the city's planners, to allow 90 “car-free†affordable condo units, designed for seniors, in a 1,005-unit development approved last year at Scarborough Town Centre, right near the Scarborough RT.

“Certainly, for condos along subway lines and major bus routes,†Mr. De Baeremaeker says, “you should be required to build some car-free units.â€

Dr. Gridlock appears Mondays. Send comments or questions to


It's irrelevant that the original purpose of freeways was to allow easy intercity travel. The fact is that thanks to 50 years of poor development, 95% of the highway lanes in the GTA are used for getting people from their house to their job.

But back to your initial criticisms of GO, I think that you need to just get over it. If you return highways to their original purpose, you have to get people out of their cars. And since 80% of the GTA's population lives in suburbs, 80% of people are going to have to use highly subsidized suburban transit. There's no way around it, so either spend millions of dollars subsidizing GO and YRT, or sit in more traffic.


--80% of the GTA's population lives in suburbs, 80% of people are going to have to use highly subsidized suburban transit.--

I know I'm not telling you anything new, but part of the problem is that suburban areas aren't designed for transit use, even highly subsidized transit use is a hard sell in these areas.

There will only be as many people leaving downtown for the suburbs as we provide capacity for. There is more inter suburban commuting because we have built the 407 and already widened it. The 401 to 16 lanes and they have already reserved the right-of-way for the 3rd beltway.

Because we did not (could not) widen the Gardiner and DVP or all of the other roads into downtown there are incentives to live in close proximity to the central city. Compare central areas of Vancouver and NYC without freeways through their downtowns to cities like Atlanta, Detroit and LA that tried to make accessing (and leaving) downtown convenient. There are studies that show that property values decline in cities as net freeway miles increases relative to population. The answer is that building freeways makes it easier travel farther, less advantages to live close. Although the freeways did increase property values at their end point which facilitated greenfields turning to subdivisions.

Using GO is similar, but not quite as convenient as using a car (schedules intermodal transfers fares), but it has allowed more people to work downtown and live far away just as central housing allows people to access downtown without being overburdened by commuting times.

GO rail corridors were not built from scratch, they decided to use existing freight rail corridors. If the government had expanded and subsidized passenger and freight rail instead of roads, and charged property taxes on roads & parking instead of just on railway lands we would likely have a slightly different modal mix today. I know, I know we don't live in that world we live in Gordon Chong & Harkinder Takhar's world..


I know I'm not telling you anything new, but part of the problem is that suburban areas aren't designed for transit use, even highly subsidized transit use is a hard sell in these areas.
The suburbs are what they are, and if transit is harder to sell then we just have to try harder and spend more. If expensive projects like viva are what it takes, then there should be 500 km of viva routes north of Eglinton. Viva blue (Yonge) is bursting at the seams which is why 5 grossly overpriced buses are being purchased to boost capacity. But if that's what it takes, that's what it takes. Deal with it, and be thankful ridership is growing.

Because we did not (could not) widen the Gardiner and DVP or all of the other roads into downtown there are incentives to live in close proximity to the central city.
Another point that is meaningless today. Even if suburban employment stopped growing tomorrow, there are already enough jobs out there that most people don't give a hoot about access to downtown.

green, I'm not disagreeing with you outright. I'm suggesting that the points you make are valid - very valid - but only in the planning stages of a young city. They turn a blind eye to the city that exists right now, and don't address the problems we are facing today.


It's never to late to change policies and create different growth patterns. We are a young city. we've only sprawled for 60 years which could be looked at as a blip, depending on the future (assuming humans will be part of it).
Major changes will probably not take place until there is some sort of crisis. How people & politicians will react to crises is unknown.
In Europe they're beginning to prepare to counteract global warming, while in the US they currently prefer to adapt to it, when and if it comes. Look at how the US reacted to 911, (it may have hurt more than it helped), but they are changing in unpredictable haphazard ways.
How will we adapt to peak oil. Currently the government is full steam ahead "investing" (subsidizing) billions of dollars worth of tar sands (low quality oil) that takes as much energy to get out of the ground as it produces. They are curently using water and electricity (coal/hydro etc) to get oil, because cars, trucks and some heating systems require this form of energy.
The bizzarre-
They want to run a gas line to the oil fields where it will be essentially traded for low quality oil. Eliminate the billions of dollars of government subsidies and tax breaks and this program makes absolutely no sense. Perhaps a competitive push from countries not using dinosaur fuels will get us to reevalate our wasteful polluting policies, but the one surety in life is that change happens. Unfortunatly it probably won't be because green22 says it makes sense or is equitable etc.. sigh


From Eye blog

The great parking debate
Filed under: General — Dale @ 5:15 pm
They may not a sexy as condo towers, but it seems as though parking spots could become the next hot topic of debate among both professional and wannabe urban planners (if they’re not already). Everyone has an opinion on parking spots and everyone’s opinion is based on the belief that they are undeniably necessary or unnecessary: Small businesses and the economy of the city will suffer without enough of them! Our reliance on cars, contributing to global warming and smog will only grow stronger if we don’t cut back on parking spots and make it more difficult for people to drive!

I spoke to Toronto’s chief urban planner a couple months ago about development and our amalgamated city’s many unamalgamated zoning bylaws. I was particularly interested in condo development and how citizens are involved in the process, but Tyndorf went off on an unexpected tangent on parking.

“To be honest, one of the things that’s been the most technically challenging has been park and loading standards,†he told me. “It’s incredible how difficult this has been to get a handle on. It’s quite amazing how much passion the discussion around front yard parking brings up.â€

Today’s column from the Globe and Mail’s Dr. Gridlock (A.K.A. Jeff Gray) takes a look at parking standards from a broader perspective. According to University of California prof. Donald Shoup (author of the book The High Cost of Free Parking), rules forcing developers to include a certain number of parking spaces with new buildings have contributed significantly to urban sprawl. Acres of pavement, sometimes designed to accommodate the maximum possible demand, have forced development to spread out, which, in the end, makes walking or taking transit more difficult.

Thankfully (if you’re someone who doesn’t care much about parking spaces anyway) this is starting to change. The city has lowered its parking space requirements for developments near subway stations and some condo complexes are starting to charge extra for parking spaces, instead of providing them for free. In one case, reports Dr. Gridlock, the developer only sold about 70% of their spaces. In other cases, developers building near public transit are selling “car-free units†with no option of parking at all.

The topic of street-side parking spaces and parking lots for shoppers and businesses is a whole other complicated can of worms best left for tomorrow’s post.

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