Banff reviewing developer parking fees
Banff’s politicians are investigating raising fees in its parking-cash-in-lieu policy.
At $21,000 a stall, the parking cash-in-lieu fee does not come close to covering the true cost of building a parking stall and Councillor Leslie Taylor believes the fee should go up and at the very least be tied to inflation.
At a meeting Monday (June 25), the veteran politician was unsuccessful in convincing her colleagues to move it to $23,000, but did get their support to at least consider reviewing the fee each year and tie it to inflation.
Administration will come back with a report at the next council meeting outlining options for an annual review and wording for council’s consideration on inflationary increases.
Coun. Taylor said parking cash-in-lieu costs are less now in inflated dollars than they were in 1990, noting the fee back then was $13,000 when the policy was first introduced.
“I’m not suggesting $23,000 covers the cost of a parking stall. We’re recognizing this is only a partial contribution, but I think it’s reasonable to at least keep track with the rate of inflation,” she said.
“I think we have already made a major shift. The original intent was to cover the cost of construction and now we’re saying we will share with you in the cost of providing parking.”
Required parking for commercial development has been a requirement since Banff’s incorporation as an Alberta municipality, but it’s long been argued new ventures can be stifled by what is viewed as prohibitive parking costs.
New development must provide the appropriate levels of parking to serve that additional development, but as an alternative to providing required parking spaces, cash-in-lieu may be paid at a rate of $21,000 per stall.
The rate was $13,000 when the policy was first introduced in 1990, but in 1999 the fee jumped to $21,000 and it has remained unchanged since that time.
Administration told council that the going rate for a surface parking space is around $30,000, while a parkade spot is between $38,000 and $40,000 per stall.
They also said they were recently informed parkade stalls in Calgary were as much as $60,000 to $70,000 per stall, which includes the cost of land plus actual construction.
Banff’s business community has been very vocal in its opposition to any increases in the cash-in-lieu fees, saying coupled with housing fees, they are a barrier to investment.
Hotel officials say they believe tying parking fees to inflation using Alberta CPI may well overstate inflationary impacts in Banff, particularly as it relates to the cost of housing and parking.
“A better indicator would be year-over-year growth-decline in Banff’s GDP; this would provide clear insight on the performance of the Banff economy versus the rest of Alberta,” said Darren Reeder, executive director of Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association (BLLHMA).
“The problem with the proposed amended parking policy is that it presumes annual growth in our local economy as a given. If fees continue to grow in a down economic cycle, then housing and parking fees will only become a bigger obstacle for business.”
Coun. Grant Canning was opposed to a jump to $23,000.
“One of the biggest deterrents I hear from business to commercial development is fees related to housing and parking,” he said.
“Increasing fees in this environment does not send a good message to our commercial sector.”
Coun. Stavros Karlos voted against hiking the fee to $23,000, but did agree it needed to be reviewed.
“I believe the number one threat to the commercial sector is our inability to manage parking and flows in the summer; that’s what affects the profitability of businesses,” he said.
“I will not support this (increase to $23,000) today, but I am in favour of looking at it.”
Council did, however, unanimously support a motion to direct administration to come up with language on inflationary increases and options for an annual review.
“I prefer to look at this annually than saying there’s an automatic increase each year, but I am open to hearing the language,” Mayor Karen Sorensen said.
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.