Park or Parking: The Dilemma in downtown Edmonton

by elle_wing on November 25, 2016 - 11:04pm

Cover: Location of Proposed Park in downtown Edmonton. (Taken from Google Maps on 25 November 2016)

In the City of Edmonton, a proposal has put forward to convert several existing parking lots in the downtown area into green space. This notion has been put forward by the City. The proposed park would be located in the Warehouse Campus Neighbourhood, at the intersection of 106 Street and 102 Avenue. The approximate size would be 1.25 ha, about the average size of other parks in the area when looking at Google Maps. There are also a couple of scattered parks within this area.

There are still a couple of privately owned parking lots in the desired area that the City has yet to claim. However, City Council approval is needed in order to move forward in obtaining these properties.

In a survey taken a couple of years ago, downtown residents had indicated they were supportive of more public green space in the area. According to nearby residents interviewed and the Councillor, Scott McKeen, there are many benefits to having a park here. The park would serve as a great amenity, liven the area, provide recreational opportunities, and increase the amount of green space in an area dominated by parking lots.

In a brief paragraph towards the end of the article, it was mentioned that there may be potential backlash from commuters. As the article focused more attention on the benefits of the park, Facebook comments on the article contain much opposition on converting parking lots to parkland. From some Facebook comments, people had remarked that the parking spots were necessary as taking the LRT system is unreliable and ineffective.

Based on my values and interests, I am supportive of the development of green spaces. As mentioned by those interviewed, it would provide recreational and aesthetic benefits, as well as ecological benefits such as allowing more rainwater to enter the ground through porous material (unlike a concrete parking lot which is impervious). However, I do understand why there is opposition to having a park in downtown Edmonton.

There are conflicts of interests and conflicts of value in this issue. In terms of value, there is the debate on what type of land use is more valuable. A green park can have recreational and social values, while parking lots can serve the need for the number of visitors visiting the downtown area. There are also existing parking issues regarding the new Rogers Place, located within a 1 km radius of the proposed park, that relies on off-site parking. Many tickets have been issued to cars parked in illegal places when events are going on in the Rogers Place, showing the need for parking.

“Downtown land is extremely precious. When it’s being used for parking, I think it stands as an ongoing symbol of a moribund downtown.” -Councillor Scott McKeen

In terms of interest conflicts, it would be regarding around what users would benefit most from the site. Those living in the downtown area would be able to enjoy the park more and use it on a daily basis, where those living in the suburbs who commute or come to downtown occasionally would not use the park as much and need the parking space.

These conflicts seem minimal and could be easily managed through more public input on where new parking could go, or even looking at a different perspective and asking what are better ways to get people downtown. A solution that Councillor McKeen and some Facebook commenters had proposed is to increase parking in other areas. This could be done by building parking garages which take up less lot space but still provide plenty of parking. My suggestion would be to improve the public transit system in order to decrease the need for parking lots in the first place.

 

Wong, J. Global News. City of Edmonton to consider converting parking lots into downtown park. 192016. Retrieved from http://globalnews.ca/news/3077149/city-of-edmonton-to-consider-convertin...

Comments

Hello there,

This is a very interesting post! I think this may be an issue that becomes more common because I think the idea of living more 'green' is becoming more more popular. I think society is starting (slowly) to transition in more energy efficient and environmental sustainable development as we become more aware about environmental degradation and climate change. I agree with you that this is a great idea to promote green spaces, particularly a space in the middle of a city. I think in this case perhaps city and urban planners should invest in re-structuring the city in a way that promotes sustainable development. This being development that promotes large numbers of visitors in a way that if energy and environmentally efficient. People may not necessarily be happy with this because taxes may increase. However, how I look at it is that if taxes increase, this added money is going towards services that benefit the people. Evidently, the city would have more money to invest in projects like that where everyone can benefit. I think this topic interests me the most because I have plans to go into the landscape architecture/ urban environmental planning industry. I am a strong advocate for promoting environmental sustainable designs. I also think that by having green spaces within busy industrial/urban spaces, it promotes a sense of still being close to nature. I know that with myself personally, maintaining that connection to nature is important and I think it eliminates a stress while promoting the environment. I believe with more green spaces and investing into energy efficient designs within a city is an excellent idea. Like you mentioned in the article, the city would have to invest in alternative methods for parking spaces. There are multiple innovative ways where the city can go with this, it would take a lot of planning and managing of the city spaces. Like you said, this is a value and conflict issue, however I think there are multiple ways this could be resolved. Another way if by getting people's opinions on what they would want in their city and how they felt about certain designs. This could be done through council meetings, public meetings or even with surveys or petitions. I think it is always important to receive opinions and perspectives from the people within the city.