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'Where a development permit has been issued, there are regulations for improving the aesthetics and safety of the site through landscaping, lighting, drainage and hard surfacing. Enforcement can be used, if required, to ensure permitted lots meet these regulations.'

Doing an enforcement blitz with x months to comply would be a good start and do wonders. Dirt/gravel lots have zero place in a 'modern' Downtown, let alone dark lots that have little to no oversight or maintenance. It is embarrassing, unnecessary and brings down the overall experience when you step out of your car into a 6" mud puddle while en route to a meeting or event.

But I do not expect much, if any change here, given that WE have been harping on this for 10-15 years or more.

Land owners have little motivation, the City honestly didn't seem to care and 311 requests were unresponsive.
 
That's been their strategy, if any, and have been hearing that for years with little to no action.
 
Which is valid, though I do wonder how many have specifically submitted complaints about the legal status of the parking lots, as opposed to just general condition issues.
 
But that's the thing... I am unsure why those are mutually exclusive.

If a complaint has been filed about the state of a lot, it should trigger a flag about the state of, or lack thereof a permit and enact a review/enforcement/conditions for continued operation.
 
You'd think, but this city seems to have a serious issue with complaint and issue followup. Everyone waits for a complaint, and only the specific complaint at that one time.

Sidewalk snow clearing being a great example - the sheer number of people that are content to not shovel until they've received a warning, who are apparently never followed up with a fine even under repeat complaints? There's apparently no risk to the landowner with this approach and It puts all the burden on others to complain. There's a good place for complaints but we lean the complaint driven system too heavily.
 
If Edmonton wants some options to deal with an abundance of downtown parking lot "eyesores", they need to consider doing something constructive and bold rather than simply complaining and relying on past practices that clearly don't work.

If it were up to me - and I know it's not even if I think it should be - the city would create a new land use designation called a public-private park. Any parcel of land that is landscaped to a minimum standard should be entitled to receive the designation and to maintain it until such time as the parcel is developed. To ensure that standard is maintained, the city might even retain the right to provide minimal maintenance if not done by the owner even if that has to be done at no cost to the owner.

All public-private park designated parcels should be property tax exempt or taxed at a nominal rate only so there is some incentive for the owner to accept the potential loss of revenue that is primarily used just to pay property taxes now anyway. Benefits to the city would include having more publicly accessible green space that the city does not have to acquire; reducing the maintenance needed on adjacent roadways and sidewalks as the sand and gravel and mud that is tracked off-site (or windblown throughout the core) is eliminated. The lack of cheap parking will see revenues for other parking options increase whether that's on street parking sold by the city or on private "legal" surface parking lots or in parkades all of which would see increased revenues that in turn would pay higher property taxes and offset some of the loss.

Minimum landscaping standards for both the public-private parking parcels and for "legal" parking lots should also include "free" access/use for a minimum number of food trucks and performance space for buskers with licenses so that the spaces can be animated as well as no longer being eyesores.

 
Clarify and enhance requirements for these uses/lots under the LUB and general requirements. Provide 6 months for obtaining permits and compliance or act by way of enforcement.

*paved
*properly drained
*lighting to ensure x lumens across the site with no lighting directly impacting adjacent sites; especially if residential in nature
*present a landscape plan that is deemed acceptable by the planning authority
*fenced where appropriate to ensure safety/security
*signed for clear access and safety

----
Existing

  1. In addition to the general requirements for Vehicle Parking, the following regulations apply to a Surface Parking Lot:
  2. the design of the Surface Parking Lot shall:
  3. be located a minimum of 3.0 m from a property line that Abuts a sidewalk;
  4. provide landscaping that both shades and screens the Parking Area
  5. provide Parking Area islands in accordance with the following::
  6. A Surface Parking Lot that contains 30 or more Vehicle Parking spaces shall incorporate landscaped open space within the Parking Area, calculated on the basis of 2.0 m2 per provided Vehicle Parking and loading space, with a minimum of one Parking Area island on the Site.
  7. A Surface Parking Lot that contains 40 or more Vehicle Parking spaces shall incorporate landscaped open space within the Parking Area, calculated on the basis of 2.0 m2 per Vehicle Parking and loading, with a minimum of two Parking Area islands on the Site.
  8. Islands within a Parking Area shall be placed to provide visual relief, to assist vehicular and pedestrian circulation, and to organize large areas of Vehicle Parking into smaller courts, and shall be Landscaped in accordance with Section 55.3 - General Planting Requirements.

 
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I realize that often the easiest thing to do is nothing and perhaps that was the case here.

Of course, then COVID also came along so it probably made a sense to put enforcement on hold for a while, but at some point we need to either start to enforce the existing rules or change them.
 

Ashley Salvador seems to be making some more noise over this, so who knows if that gets a push towards more action on this issue.
 
Would there be a way to have temporary housing added to some of these parking lots? Like a 5-15 year type solution that could be dismantled and reused afterwards?

I remember Vancouver doing some affordable housing with modular units they stacked in a parking lot near BC place.

No idea how the economics would work. But if they could rent out some more housing and fill in some gaps for the next decade, that would be nice. Sort out a deal with landowners for it to make sense.

Here’s what Van did. Is there a more market housing, but cheap, version of this? https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/temporary-modular-housing.aspx

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If I'm reading this right, it's saying in this case because a couple specific properties were originally used for parking by the city, before being sold, that the city can't later force them to obtain permits.
Specifically: 9633 101A Ave & 9637 101A Ave (the case misaddresses them as 101 Ave (not A) which don't exist).

They were originally owned by the city, and the city demo'd the buildings and converted them to parking, and then sold those lots to another company along with the parking leases, who then sold them again later, the paid parking lots existing on the properties the whole time since the city's original ownership. The case seeming to say that since the city originally operated them as such under their own jurisdiction, then they can't force a later owner to obtain a permit now. The city's operation of the lots as parking infers an unwritten permit or spoken agreement.

Which seems fair enough, but I don't think this would apply to every single unpermitted parking lot downtown. Or certainly there's grounds for a new decision if the city is acting equally upon all unpermitted lots.
What initiated this was directed complaints from a neighbouring landowner, and not because the city wanted to reform widespread illegal parking operations at the time.
 

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