Podcasters ponder parking decision precedent

Podcasters ponder parking decision precedent

· The Pulse

Edmonton city council's decision to extend the Katz Group's agreement for a temporary gravel parking space could create both positive and negative ripples, the hosts of Episode 258 of Speaking Municipally said.

Council voted 8-4 (mayor Amarjeet Sohi was absent) to extend the agreement for lots adjacent to Rogers Place until 2029 on April 2. Hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek were split on Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson's comments that a parking lot is better than a vacant lot.

Male thought the suggestion that these are the only options lacked creativity but found a silver lining in council's requirement that greenery and pedestrian pathways must be added to the lot. Pavlek, meanwhile, said council extending the Katz Group's agreement could encourage other developers to exploit other vacant lots for profit rather than encourage them to build.

"It incentivizes people to squat on land. It incentivizes people to purchase land that they don't have the financial capacity to develop at the moment," Pavlek said. "Then they get to turn it into a parking lot and make a killing for five years or 10 years in the interim because permits will continually get renewed."

Male countered that this already happens, as evidenced by the vast number of (unlicensed) gravel lots in the core. Requiring beautification for these lots could be a useful byproduct of the Katz Group decision, he said.

In previous podcasts, the hosts have wondered if the Katz Group's suit against Boyle Street Community Services could factor into the parking decision. But Pavlek referenced councillors Aaron Paquette and Andrew Knack's comments on X that explained they are forbidden to base decisions on land use on factors outside the application itself.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi's response to Premier Danielle Smith about her offer to help manage city's finances. Sohi outlined nine ways the province could help without taking over, including paying more than $60 million in outstanding property taxes.

Hear more about this, the search for a new city manager, an app replacing EPark, public art, and more on the April 5 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: People walk through a surface parking lot near Rogers Place. (Tim Querengesser)