City of Lethbridge looks to update minimum parking bylaws for businesses

Kelti Baird is part owner of Theoretically Brewing Company in Lethbridge. She and her business partner would like to use their underutilized parking lot to expand the business, but red tape from the city is stopping them.

Baird went in front of the Community Issues Committee meeting on Monday to ask city council to abolish minimum parking bylaw requirements so the lot can move forward.

“The minimum parking requirement and Land Use Bylaw 6300 is outdated and is actually detrimental to the business community here in Lethbridge,” Baird said.

“[The bylaw] requires businesses, based on their square footage, to provide so many different parking stalls in order for customers to be satisfied,” she explained.

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Read more: Lethbridge gymnastics company denied parking waiver, expansion put on hold

The city developed the bylaw in the 60s and after doing some research and consulting with nearly a dozen other businesses in Lethbridge, Baird feels it does not fit well with the current structure of Lethbridge.

“It requires too much land use to be designated into parking — parking is dramatically underutilized,” Baird said.

“It essentially subsidizes people driving cars, rather than taking alternative methods of transportation like biking, walking, or transit,” she added.

Edmonton recently became the first city in North America to abolish minimum parking requirements citywide, and implement an open option approach instead.

Read more: Edmonton removes minimum parking requirements city-wide

According to Baird, there are other cities across North America have also modified their minimum parking requirements to better fit the needs of businesses.

“It’s not that no new parking is developed — it’s that the amount of parking that is developed is appropriate for the size and the needs of the businesses in the area,” Baird said.

Cyndi Vos, CEO of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce told Global News in a statement that “businesses should have a say” when it comes to their onsite parking.

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“Many businesses now are running on non-traditional structures and should not have to limit their business growth on outdated parking bylaws,” her statement said.

At the committee meeting, the city recognized that minimum parking requirements can be a challenge for businesses such as Baird’s and create red tape.

City officials say consultations will be done and changes could be implemented as early as next summer.

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