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Canmore council reverses weekday paid parking increase

“I’m concerned about the vibrancy of our downtown core with this rate increase.”

CANMORE – Paid parking rates in peak season will be dropping by $1 during the week.

On a narrow 4-3 vote, Canmore council reversed the paid rate Mondays through Thursdays from $4 to $3.

Coun. Wade Graham, who brought forward the motion, said he believed last year’s approval of a paid parking increase for weekends was necessary due to its high use but thought the weekday use didn’t justify the increase.

He said he supports mode shift and getting people away from personal vehicles, but felt the increase was premature and could have an affordability impact on people who work downtown.

“During the week I don’t see parking lots that are well utilized or utilized as they should be,” he said, adding he’d heard anecdotally from downtown businesses on the slowness during the week.

“I’m concerned about the vibrancy of our downtown core with this rate increase.”

A report, which was submitted by Graham, highlighted statistics previously brought forward by Town staff on the use of downtown parking spots. Town staff had said downtown parking shouldn’t exceed 80-85 per cent use, with 85 per cent being a sign paid parking rates should be increased.

On weekdays from May to August 2023 and September 2022, the use of downtown parking was between 59-75 per cent. The weekend use, however, was between 79-90 per cent.

“While the weekend utilization rate does break the threshold on a monthly basis to trigger a price increase, the weekday utilization does not,” stated Graham in his report. “Therefore, the proposed rate increase on weekdays during peak season is premature and not justified at this moment.”

The motion was originally brought up at budget last fall, but a procedural issue led to council needing to give a two-thirds approval to hear it. Despite four council members wanting to debate it, without the two-thirds majority it was defeated. It led to council approving an increase late last year.

Council’s procedural bylaw outlines a defeated motion has to wait six months before returning, allowing Graham to return to council which he said “was important to bring this one back.”

Coun. Tanya Foubert, council’s representative on the Downtown BIA, said after talking to people in the community – including those who work downtown – she felt it could make an impact on downtown workers who commute to Canmore.

“It’s not a huge difference in terms of price, but I truly believe over time the sum is greater than the parts. When it comes to affordability and livability in our community, there are a whole lot I cannot affect change on … but for people who work downtown mid-week who have to drive their car for work, I think this motion might make a little bit of a difference,” she said.

Caitlin Miller, the Town’s protective services manager, said the change in rates likely won’t take place until late May or early June due to a request needing to be made with the vendor. Town staff are also working towards implementing paid parking in Riverside Park and the boat launch area by the Bow River bridge.

Mayor Sean Krausert said lowering the rate from $4 to $3 “makes zero sense” and was “a make-work project” for staff, adding he believed it wouldn’t change behaviour of people mode shifting, how the decrease could impact the Town’s budget and free parking being available at select locations.

Coun. Jeff Hilstad, who voted against the motion, noted visitation was likely going to increase this year, meaning the use of parking lots may go above the necessary threshold to justify an increase.

“I think that we’re going to see a lot of visitation this year. … For now, I’d like to stay the course,” said Hilstad.

The vote also shows council giving direction for conflicting existing policy and studies.

The Integrated Transportation Plan supports the shift to more active modes of transit, while the Retail Gap Analysis and Light Industrial and Commercial Land Review study had a section on downtown parking that noted paid parking being an issue for some and the three free hours of parking for locals outlined it not being a significant barrier.

Council’s strategic plan has livability, which has affordability as a key piece, and environment, with a shift towards active transit modes, as priorities.

The Labour Market Recruitment and Retention strategy had several people say paid parking was an issue, particularly with the three free hours not covering a work shift and for those coming from outside of Canmore to work.

A Town Centre non-resident employee monthly parking permit for $96 a month was approved by council for the off-peak season, but not for on-peak times. A resident monthly parking permit for on-peak season is $83 a month.

According to the 2023 annual paid parking report, the bulk of revenue came from visitors.

It stated non-residents paid $1.768 million in the Town Centre and $278,360 at Quarry Lake. The annual report noted residents paid $62,822 downtown and $22,773 at Quarry Lake.

As part of the paid parking program, Canmore residents who register get three free hours of parking each day. In downtown, residents used 212,474 hours of free parking ($508,406) and 38,440 free parking hours ($144,207) at Quarry Lake.

There’s also free parking at Elevation Place, 7th Avenue and Fairholme Drive, though the latter two quickly fill up.

The decision could financially impact paid parking revenue in 2024. Town staff previously estimated the $1 fee increase in peak season would see revenue jump by $400,000.

Coun. Joanna McCallum said in talking to Town staff, the change between Mondays and Thursdays could potentially lose $250,000 in revenue.

Graham’s report noted $1,000 has been spent to prepare for rates to be $4 in peak season and will cost about $1,000 to reverse for weekday peak season. It also highlighted it would take time, meaning $4 an hour would still take effect on May 15.

However, Coun. Karen Marra highlighted the paid parking revenue significantly surpassed projections last year and the slight decrease could help affordability.

Paid parking revenue was budgeted at $1.15 million in 2023 and with $1.97 million collected, it saw $791,000 extra made and shifted into reserves.

“We do talk about a $1 or $2 making a difference in different areas of the community, so it might make a difference to someone working downtown. … Sometimes that $1 or $2 per hour, you work an eight-hour shift and it’s $5 a day,” she said.


  • Off-peak revenue: $640,067
  • On-peak revenue: $1.129 million
  • Total: $1.769 million


  • Off-peak revenue: $31,490
  • On-peak revenue: $246,870
  • Total: $278,360


* Statistics from 2023 annual paid parking report

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