Calgary’s Platform Parkade – Part of the Revitalized East Village Urban Mosaic

By Reachel Knight, Calgary Parking Authority

In late May, the Platform Innovation Centre & Parkade opened its gates to Calgarians with fanfare, community activities, and more… JUST KIDDING. With Calgary’s third COVID-19 lockdown underway, the Calgary Parking Authority’s (CPA’s) grand opening for its first purpose-built parkade in decades wasn’t quite what we’d envisioned when planning began years ago. Luckily for us, forward-thinking and adaptability are the foundation that Platform Parkade is built on.

Calgary’s East Village has always been a magnetic neighbourhood, a gathering place that draws visitors to its vibrancy, invention, and beauty (more on that later). Platform Parkade is part of the revitalized East Village urban mosaic. The need for the new parkade location was identified in The City of Calgary’s East Village Area Redevelopment Plan: the creation of Platform Parkade allowed key East Village projects, including the Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre and Central Library, to be created without standalone parking space. Platform Parkade was designed, developed, and built to address the evolving parking and transportation needs of the neighbourhood.

Throughout the planning process and 2.5 years of complex construction, we worked to create a blueprint for the future conversion of this unique space. Certain design elements will allow the space to be adapted into commercial or residential uses in the future when the needs of the community change.

For example:

  • Increased floor-to-ceiling heights to accommodate mechanical, electrical and HVAC requirements for future uses (office and/or residential)
  • Slightly sloped floors with no ramp system mean that if/when this building is converted to an alternate use only a minor topper will have to be installed to level out the space. Given that there is no ramp system, no ramps will have…

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Stall-Based Monitoring, the Key to Progressive Urban Parking Solutions

By Ryan Hickey

For many cities and municipalities, parking is at the center of their decision-making these days, whether it is from a revenue, usage patterns (current and future) or an operations perspective. As we move towards getting back to a new normal in 2021, the issues that were impacting the parking experience prior to COVID-19 are sure to resurface, perhaps with a slightly different appearance.

All too often, there was, and still is,  a negative experience related to urban parking, with the majority of community members believing that parking resources are not meeting their needs. This perception is fueled by the length of time it can take citizens to find an available parking stall and is frequently used as the main metric for gauging whether a region has an efficient and sufficient supply of parking. When finding a possible solution, cities and municipalities must consider a large number of variables while planning out parking zones, including budgets, land use, and the overall community experience. Overall, this process becomes extremely overwhelming and can be exacerbated by inaccurate parking data supplied by outdated or inaccurate methods.

Urban planners face a variety of challenges in collecting reliable and accurate parking data to improve overall parking user experiences. Presently, many decision makers are unable to form concrete plans towards improving their parking, due to a lack of real-time data availability, and ever-changing parking behaviours driven by COVID-19. At a time when most individuals are working from home, it could be questioned whether there is a need for increased parking. In some areas of North America, it was noted that parking levels were at an all-time low, as citizens were encouraged to stay home and reduce unnecessary travel. For example, sensor data collected within Stratford, Ontario demonstrated a significant decrease…

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Everywhere at Once: Virtualizing the Customer Experience

By Adamo Donatucci

Like any industry heavily reliant on technology, the urban mobility marketplace continues to evolve with advances in available and emergent technologies. Today, it is common for owners and operators to use technology to engage their customers virtually while retaining an element of personalized interaction.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, the healthcare industry has proven to be a fascinating case study in the application of advanced parking technology to support the vertical’s broader goals of increasing staff and patient safety while simultaneously reducing hospitals’ and clinics’ capital and operating costs.

Virtualization of the customer experience was driven initially by market preferences for technology-forward service solutions that generated value for parking operators by reducing overall expenses without sacrificing the high level of service that draws traffic to their facility. While this remains an important consideration today, the COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated efforts to provide the services people need at a distance that keeps them safe.

Early efforts to virtualize the customer experience centered around providing lower-cost alternatives to on-site staffing by directing intercom calls from an attendant’s desk to an off-site monitoring station to save on staffing costs. Today’s technology gives parking operators the flexibility to deploy AI-driven kiosks that assist users to navigate large and complex facilities; in some deployments, this includes turn-by-turn directions back to their car based on the license plate number they enter.

With a greater-than-ever demand for touchless access solutions, parking operators are developing new systems that let users interact with the equipment without ever coming into contact with it; some suppliers have even found ways of integrating gestures to activate ticket dispensing and are leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy technology for permitted access. And just arriving on the market are technology integrations that begin the virtual customer experience before drivers…

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Data is the Key to Modernizing Curbside Management

By Adam Wenneman

The curbside is one of the most poorly understood parts of the municipal right-of-way. On the one hand, it’s a huge piece of municipal infrastructure that is essential to the urban transportation landscape, supporting billion-dollar industries like goods movement and ride sharing. On the other, it is a scarce – and diminishing – resource whose management principles remain rooted in 20th century technologies.

In a time where curbside uses are growing to include expanded patios, dedicated courier loading zones, and other temporary uses, cities need to leverage innovations in collecting, managing, and sharing curb data to improve the efficiency of operations at the curbside.

The Curbside is a Critical Municipal Asset

The curbside is a major piece of infrastructure for every municipality. Across Canada, on-street parking represents upwards of 20% of a city’s total parking supply1. In some cities, like Saskatoon or St John’s, on-street parking constitutes almost all of the downtown parking supply. In downtown Hamilton alone, there is room for over 1,100 parking spaces at the curbside – that’s an area equivalent to the size of ten NHL-sized ice rinks. Efficient operation of this space is an important factor in a city’s ability to support the future of urban mobility.

Despite its considerable supply, the curbside remains a limited and scarce resource at a time where demand for curb space is at an all-time high. The curbside is a limited resource in that its supply cannot grow substantially in urban areas with well-defined built environments and road networks. At the same time, cities are beginning to repurpose the curbside and even entire roadways for alternative uses like active transportation, outdoor dining, and shared community space2. Make no mistake – increasing the amount of green, livable space in a city can have major…

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War Veterans – Free parking – Municipalities

We have received an inquiry about providing free parking to war veterans in our downtown. Does your municipality provide free parking to War Veterans and if so, what are the particulars of the program? If you have reviewed this program and decided against it, please provide any reasons why the program was not accepted and/or discontinued.


Paul McCormick,

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Hamilton’s Transition to Digital: Building a Mobility Strategy for the Future

By Alicia Smart, Passport

Over the past decade, the City of Hamilton has experienced a tremendous influx in urban growth and development. The City, known for its tourism and medical research, is also the fastest growing mid-sized city in Canada for tech and healthcare. This rapid growth and urbanization have caused the City to reimagine its parking operations.

Many areas in Hamilton are undergoing secondary plans to ensure that there are land use, transportation, and infrastructure plans in place to meet the needs of the growing communities. Hamilton’s parking operation handles all on-street parking related matters, inclusive to parking bylaws. In addition to the day-to-day parking that occurs on Hamilton’s 2,700 on-street and 5,000 off-street paid parking spaces, construction, special events and filming heavily utilize parking. Many of the core parking surface lots have made way for urban growth and Hamilton expects this to be a growing trend over the next 10 years.

Up until 2019, a large portion of the City’s parking operation was simply collecting and reconciling cash and coin. Enforcement operations caused a number of issues at the time, including hardware malfunctions and coin jams. Additionally, data collection was almost non-existent due to the coin and cash dependence. “When I joined the parking system in 2017, what I saw was a large group of very hardworking people who were working too hard at the expense of manual processes,” says Amanda McIlveen, City of Hamilton parking operations and initiatives manager. “From past experience, I knew that Hamilton was in need of a massive digital transformation.”

Amanda and her team quickly realized that in a data-heavy industry, it is difficult to run a parking operation efficiently using antiquated and manual processes. Leveraging data allows cities to manage and allocate staff properly, manage parking demand, create efficiency in…

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Dynamic Pricing: A success story in three stages

By Baptiste Corno

Dynamic pricing is clearly the solution nowadays to boost your parking facilities revenue, enhance customer experiences, increase the attractiveness of a city center, lead urban flow and provide drivers with discounted parking spaces. Drivers, parking managers or city managers, this article is made for you.

Our world and our society, are in constant evolution. We will witness considerable changes in the next decade. Some major events have already changed our world this year and we are likely to see more. This decade is the start of a new cycle. We must individually and collectively reconsider our habits and consumptions modes to sustain our future.

Mobility must be one of the top priorities to reconsider. It must evolve toward more autonomy, shared transportation, environmentally friendly and connected usage. Car Parks must also evolve in the same direction and all of us must adopt a very positive approach if we want to succeed.

The development of dynamic pricing solutions in parking facilities is one of the first areas to change because it will help everybody in the community, especially consumers and their budgets. By helping a wider range of the population, Dynamic Pricing can be used as a public policy that benefits a large number of people while providing optimization for private entities. Dynamic Pricing can be the solution of numerous challenges. Xavier Zakoian, CEO & Founder of Kowee, leader in Dynamic Pricing solution for the parking industry stated that: “The objective to achieve is not necessarily revenue optimization. It can be, but it can be customer satisfaction, customer targeting, occupancy maximization and so on”. Dynamic Pricing techniques are an answer to the actual issue regarding urban traffic flow in Smart Cities.

Infotraffic presented an example of Dynamic Pricing strategy at the Virtual Canadian Parking Association Conference…

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Parking Lot Design With Winter In Mind

By Pam Strong, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

In the Q2 2020 issue of Parker magazine, we highlighted the significant issues that salt is causing to our road and parking lot infrastructure, as well as to our freshwater resources. Many stakeholders, including road managers and environmental agencies, have been working to tackle this issue and apply less salt; however much of this effort has focused on roads. As part of this effort, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority retained GHD in 2017 to develop the Parking Lot Design Guidelines to Promote Road Salt Reduction. These guidelines were developed with the recognition that parking lots contribute a significant amount of chloride from salt, approximately 20% in the Lake Simcoe watershed, and significantly more in more urbanized areas, such as Toronto and Peel Region. These guidelines provide some tangible options for those involved in parking lot design and maintenance to reduce the amount of salt that is used in these areas, thus protecting parking lot infrastructure and water resources.

The guidelines were developed to demonstrate to those involved in the planning, design, and maintenance of parking lots that they can be designed from the outset in such a way that they require less salt to be applied to maintain an acceptable level of service and safety. Through stakeholder interviews and design charrettes, we identified four design features that can help to reduce the amount of salt needed to maintain safe conditions. Also included with the guidelines are site examples that demonstrate how the features can be used on several different development types. These site types include:

  • Large size commercial development (greater than 10 ha)
  • Medium size commercial development (5-6 ha)
  • Small size commercial development (less than 3 ha)
  • Institutional development (public school)

We also developed two…

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Reimagining A Lot: The Story of Calgary’s PARK PARK

By Sidney Starkman, Planning & Development Analyst, Calgary Parking Authority

When you ask people outside of the parking industry what they think about when they hear the words “surface parking lot”, they may say: unwelcoming to pedestrians, only used at peak times or bland space. Though we can’t boast about being home to the largest parking lot in the world, we do have an awful lot of surface parking space in in Calgary, Alberta. We at the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) believe in building a better Calgary by working collaboratively to support the current and future parking needs of the communities we serve. Given this mandate and the ample space available, we set out to change the narrative about what surface parking lots can look like, how they function, and how they integrate into a neighbourhood: we launched a placemaking project to reshape a lot by engaging professionals to innovate the space.

This project began with an open design competition managed by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC). The call for submissions asked for a creative intervention that re-imagined how surface parking lots can be designed; something that would delight and inspire, while continuing to operate successfully as a parking lot.

The goals of the project were to:

  • encourage critical thought and conversation on parking lots;
  • beautify a utilitarian space;
  • improve the quality of life for users and residents; and,
  • place make, turning a single-use space into somewhere people can have a positive, interactive, and emotional experience.

To select the perfect location, we analyzed all available surface parking options within the city. We wanted at a busy, mid-sized lot (30 stalls) which would guarantee visitors to the space, and one located in an active community where residents embrace unfamiliar projects. We were…

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The problem with salt: crucial for winter safety, but what is the cost?

By Pam Strong, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Canadian winters present many challenges for parking lot and property managers across the country, with their mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The use of snowplows and the application of sand is one of the only options for colder climate areas in Canada and will generally provide the traction needed for safe conditions. In more temperate areas, however, the application of a de-icing agent is often required alongside plowing. These are typically some of the country’s more highly populated areas, making proper maintenance crucial due to the higher traffic volumes. Winter maintenance is a challenge in these areas, where temperatures often hover around the freezing mark and freeze-thaw cycles are common. However, it is in these conditions where the use of road salt (i.e. sodium chloride) has become the common, practice. As its use has become increasingly widespread over the past several years, with approximately seven million tonnes applied annually in Canada, we have also come to realize that its use comes with several significant environmental and financial consequences.

Road salt has been in use as a de-icer since the late 1940s, and it has become the most used tool in the winter maintenance toolbox. It is relatively inexpensive, generally easy to access, easy to store and use, and it is highly effective at melting snow and ice, at temperatures down to -9° Celsius. These characteristics have led to its widespread use for road maintenance, and for private residences and parking lots of all types. In 2004, Environment Canada introduced a Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts, for use by road maintenance agencies.  Since that time, these agencies have been making efforts to refine their winter maintenance practices and reduce the amount of salt…

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