Higher downtown parking rates would curb congestion: Report

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The study was paid for independently by four city councillors who don't think widening highways is the best solution to downtown gridlock.

Emma Jackson, Metro

Adding an extra $2 to current downtown parking rates could help alleviate road congestion, according to a report commissioned by four city councillors.

A parking meter on Bank Street in Ottawa

A parking meter on Bank Street in Ottawa. Emma Jackson/Metro

In addition to the parking surcharge, the report looks at three other potential levies: a highway toll; a “cordon charge,” which would ding motorists each time they entered the downtown during peak times; and a higher gas tax.

“We’ve got congestion — it seems to be getting worse,” said Coun. David Chernushenko, one of the four city councillors who funded the report from their own office budgets.

“Let’s have the conversion about, Ok, (if we don’t want to widen roads) what are the other options?” he said.

The study suggests that hiking parking costs would be the best of the four options, projecting that the policy would reduce the volume of the daily morning commute by 136,283 vehicles. And 12,498 more people would be motivated to use transit instead, the report says.

Chernushenko said there’s no reason those people should be alarmed by a research report.

“We’re not planning to introduce any motion in this term to revisit the issue,” he said. “It was clear, rightly or wrongly depending on who you are, that council did not have the appetite at this time to look at congestion pricing.”