Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury wants to make it easier for permit holders to park on residential streets in two Ottawa neighbourhoods.
Under the city's parking permit program, residents who qualify and pay a fee can park their vehicles on designated streets for longer periods than the hours posted on parking signs.
But to establish permit parking on a street or series of streets where it currently isn't allowed requires 66 per cent of "affected residents" to sign a petition in support.
In a report to the city's transportation committee, Fleury argues that bar is too high, particularly in neighbourhoods with lots of rental housing and multi-unit buildings.
"We've seen dozens of requests for the petition process and none have returned successful because of low participation rates in high renter areas," said Fleury.
As a result, Fleury says parking availability in Lowertown East and Vanier is stagnating, even as more residents move into new and infill developments. He's proposing to replace the existing petition process in those two areas with a simpler community consultation process.
What do the people want?
Under the new process, Fleury would solicit feedback from Vanier residents through an article in the community newspaper, which is delivered to every household in the area. For Lowertown East residents, his office would deliver information materials to each residential address.
The issue would also be discussed at meetings of the two area community associations.
"We would get all of the input through the fall ... and come forward with a more co-ordinated and cohesive plan," said Fleury.
City staff would ultimately make recommendations on which streets should join the parking permit program, based on resident input and neighbourhood data.
Staff from the transportation department acknowledged that changing parking rules in Fleury's ward is difficult because of the high concentration of multi-unit and apartment buildings.
"While using a modified and broader consultation simplifies the process, it may result in some residents not receiving notice or not being provided with the opportunity to provide their feedback," staff wrote in the report.
Chris Greenshields, vice-president of the Vanier Community Association, said he requested the city look into the issue.
Vanier has numerous new developments planned or underway, combined with with many federal buildings near which commuters from other parts of the city rely on street parking.
"We expect to see growing pressure on parking as part of an overall pressure and increase in traffic," said Greenshields.
Greenshields said Vanier has very few streets that currently allow permit parking.
Jordan Ferraro, chair of the Lowertown Community Association's transportation committee, said a broad consultation process will let residents recommend changes based on the distinct needs of their neighbourhoods.
As an example, he cited the Bordeleau Park area, which he said experienced a "vehicular infestation" during work hours before the COVID-19 pandemic, when employees of the nearby Global Affairs Canada building would take street parking spots from local residents.
But that neighbourhood's needs differ from those of the Macdonald Gardens Park, Ferraro said, which is experiencing densification challenges similar to those in Vanier.
"It's an extraordinarily good idea to at least have the dialogue because ... it would be each zone having neighborhood self-determination," said Ferraro.
The transportation committee will consider the proposal at its meeting on July 5.