Photo by Radcliffe Dacanay -

Bigger parking lots for new workplaces?

Part 4 in a week-long series on parking in the City of Waterloo draft zoning bylaw.

Is Waterloo’s proposed zoning preventing workers and their employers from reaping the benefits of rapid transit?

The zoning bylaw review seems to drastically increase the amount of parking that “employment lands” will require. In a time where our region seeks to reduce congestion and sprawl by enabling commuting by other means than driving, it seems that the city of Waterloo is ready to force employers to build more empty parking spaces.

Minimum parking for industrial malls stands to increase by 20% [1]. Single occupant buildings, if large enough, could see their parking requirements triple! [2] While the old bylaw might have envisioned large warehouses and factory floors, the new rules clearly have offices in mind. Space-intensive industrial tenants may need to look elsewhere.

The good news is that Waterloo plans on applying reductions to parking in certain areas like major nodes and major transit areas. The bad news is that the baseline requirement will be raised first, so a reduction of 30% near transit stations is actually a modest 16% from the old rate. Meanwhile new developments in the rest of the city must build more mandatory parking than before.

The Northfield Station development, placing parking next to an LRT stop

The Northfield Station development, placing parking next to an LRT stop

Much like with residential parking, the additional cost of extra parking on employment lands must be borne by the employer. The presence of extra parking will serve as a powerful incentive for driving, even when it is unnecessary, and will be discourage employers from offering parking cash-outs or alternative benefits (such as free transit passes) to reduce their parking needs. These reduce the chances their employees will do anything but drive.

By raising minimum parking requirements for employment lands, the City of Waterloo could be undermining a host of measures designed to give people more transportation choice, and  increasing the space and costs for employers to locate in Waterloo. Ultimately this could result in more drivers on the road at rush hour.

Take action:

Write to the Zoning Bylaw Review staff and your city councillors, and share your concerns about parking requirements for workplaces in the City of Waterloo’s next zoning bylaw.

Editor’s note: This post is part of a blog series on parking requirements in the City of Waterloo’s Zoning Bylaw Review. Read the other articles in this series:

[1] Existing industrial parking rate: 2.5/100m^2 floor space.  New employment parking rate: 3.0/100m^2 floor space

[2] The existing rate of 2.5/100m^2 applies to the first 1000m^2 of space. A reduced rate of 1.0 applies after that, eventually dropping to 0.75 for space beyond 5000m^2. The new rate of 3.0 appears to be a flat rate.

Photo credit: radcliffe decanay on Flickr, (c) 2006. Licensed under CC-BY.