Parking  Facility  Standards – How do your parking garages stack up?

Parking Facility Standards – How do your parking garages stack up?

Parking Excellence Recognized in Canada (PERC), later updated to the Parking Facility Standards Award program (PFSA) was the first parking facility evaluation program of its kind, and saw many Canadian parking organizations achieve success through participation in the program.

Derived from these past award programs, a standard checklist of items required to meet acceptable, minimum standards for a parking facility has been further amended and endorsed by the Canadian Parking Association as the benchmark for measuring a facility against national standards.

The objective of sharing this check list is to provide the tools necessary for operators to self-check their parking facilities against minimum requirements to manage and maintain a quality parking operation that sets it above others, and helps to improve the image of the industry.  The standards cover a variety of facility types, from gravel lots to state-of-the-art parkades, both old and new.

Through a comprehensive consultative process involving a team of parking professionals representing the municipal, airport, campus, private, and hospital sectors, a set of criteria emerged.  The CPA’s Image Committee, comprised of board members from all Canadian sectors, worked in consultation with members from all regions of the country during various stages of development.

Focus groups were conducted in five major cities across Canada:  Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Saint John.  More than 300 participants from a range of community sectors were asked to share current and relevant information about their experiences using parking facilities.

Keeping in mind that this study was conducted prior to the technological boom that has evolved and transformed the industry over the past decade, the study’s main focus at the time was on the physical state of the parking facilities and the level of customer service provided to enhance the parking experience.  Despite the development and introduction of new technology, maintaining standards in all aspects of a a parking facility continues to be a top priority.

Studies revealed that customers observed the parking industry as being comprised of sub-standard operations where the customer’s safety and security was compromised.  Two simple themes emerged from the focus groups:

First, safety was the first and foremost concern of all.  Female participants worried for their personal safety, and the males placed the higher priority on the safety of their cars!

Second, participants had plenty of stories to tell about negative experiences that had occurred in and around parking facilities, but not one was a personal experience.  Rather, all incidents described were second and third-hand accounts.

The results of the study were interesting – no complaints about price gouging, or lack of spaces, or over-zealous enforcement officers – but simply a poor image attached to the entire parking industry based primarily on perceptions and enhanced by some deficient operations.  It doesn’t help to have the movie and television industry portray crime and acts of violence in darkened parking garages!

In keeping with the CPA’s mission, parking owners and operators and managers are encouraged to adopt a set of standards for the facilities under their control and maintain them at a level that will demonstrate the integrity of the industry and continue to change the perceptions of parking patrons so that the industry is valued as contributors to their clients’ individual lifestyles and to the communities they serve.

To assist readers in understanding how to achieve a minimum, yet acceptable standard for operations, the CPA’s Technical Bulletin #10 is condensed into a short checklist. Simply review your parking operation against the criteria developed by the CPA’s panel of parking experts and adjust or correct the deficiencies.

Budget provisions aren’t required to identify the areas in need of attention – it is a matter of making sure you are aware of what’s going on in your facilities by conducting regular inspections.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a current record of deficiencies for budget planning, maintenance scheduling, insurance claims, etc.

The data was distilled and from that the following areas were determined to be the most important to participants: Safety, Enforcement, Lighting, Staff, Security, Maintenance Signage. Note that price was not an issue, provided the level of service in these areas was satisfactory.

The Canadian Parking Association commends its members who provide state-of-the-art parking facilities. The development of minimum standards for parking facilities is not intended to limit achievements already attained, but is provided as a guide for parking facility owners and managers to checklist the basic endorsed standards for their facilities, regardless of the type, location or influences that are outside of the operator’s control.

When developing the checklist, requirements were kept at a practical level so that implementation and maintenance would be attainable by most parking owners/operators, regardless of size, location, availability of operating capital or regulatory issues imposed by outside organizations.

The Benefits of Achieving and Maintaining Standards

Facility Owners/Operators

  • Maintaining standards developed and endorsed on a national level brings a sense of professionalism to your organization.
  • Increased usage and public recognition by repeat customers who come to expect quality services and facilities under your management.
  • Improved your company’s image as a contributing community member.
  • Reduce complaints from customers.

Parking Customers

  • Reliable services and facilities.
  • Quality parking operations to frequent.
  • Ease of use when in a parking facility.
  • Clear understanding of regulations and expectations.
  • Care and quality of parking facilities indicates customer appreciation.

Communities & Associations

  • Appropriate parking has a positive effect on local business.
  • Parking operations will be recognized as a contributor to the economy.
  • Positive impact on a community vibrancy.
  • Portrays sound business/community practices.


Achieving and maintaining national standards to be recognized in Canada as a provider of quality parking facilities will set your organization ahead of others.  This process can also be used as an internal benchmark or measurement to influence budgets, planning and future development.


Using the checklist provided, review each of your parking facilities individually.  Several of the standards will be common to all of your lots and garages, but the physical inspection is necessary for each site in order to identify and address unique deficiencies.

Once you have completed the review, proceed with addressing deficiencies that have been identified.

The Canadian Parking Association offers this and other Technical Bulletins to all of its members to maintain their parking operations at a level endorsed by the Canadian Parking Association.

The Canadian Parking Association, by developing and publishing this checklist assumes no liability to its members or the public, should these standards be found to be inadequate in protecting the public. Each property owner or manager must engage in practices in their parking facilities that adequately protect the public from loss or injury.

Some Deficiencies Can’t be Avoided

In some instances, not all standards can be achieved for a variety of reasons. In such a case, the owner/operator is encouraged to review and record deficiencies and develop alternatives to mitigate the need for the particular item without compromising the integrity of the facility.

Raise the Bar

Paying attention to the basics will pay off in the long run. Left unattended, small deficiencies or issues will soon accumulate
and eventually will have an effect on how your customers perceive your organization. Simple steps taken to monitor and take action to correct issues goes a long way in changing perceptions and improving your image.


The CPA acknowledges the following CPA members who contributed to the development of these standards:

Harry Renaud
Carole (Dunlevie) Whitehorne
Tom Arnold
Dale Fraser
Jorge Gonzalez
Ken Petry
John McBride

For information regarding the Canadian Parking Association’s Technical Bulletins contact,


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