Paid parking at city facilities, third-party operation of rec centres, golf courses on the table: City of Edmonton's 'Reimagine' plan

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Paid parking at large parks and amenities, a reduction in programs, and outsourcing of golf course and recreation centre operations to third parties are options being looked at by the City of Edmonton to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

City manager Andre Corbould unveiled 16 opportunities Monday for the city to find cost savings and generate additional revenues as Edmonton looks to “Reimagine” its services post-pandemic. Business cases are currently being crafted for these potential service level reductions and final decisions won’t be made until recommendations are presented to city officials and council in late June.

Five of the city’s largest service areas were targeted for review including fire rescue, fleet management and maintenance, facility management and maintenance, parks and open space access, and recreational and sport facility access and cultural programming. Consulting firm KPMG has been retained by the city to support development of the 16 business cases.

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“Any business case recommending a reduction in service levels will be weighed against the potential impacts as well as available alternatives. The business cases will provide the city with information required to make intelligent, data-driven decisions and ensure council is fully informed,” Corbould told reporters Monday afternoon. “Running a business this large and complex demands continuous improvement and a willingness to look at what we do, how we do it and whether we can do better. That’s what this work is about.”

Parking fees at large city parks and amenities is one of the possibilities currently being explored, with an option of free parking for the first two hours. Corbould said paid parking exists in many other municipalities in North America and an expansion would align with the city’s objectives of supporting transit use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“One of the reasons we did look at parking fees is we did a jurisdictional scan and there are a lot of municipalities in Canada and in North America that do handle parking in different ways and so we thought it was very important to address this and take a specific look at it,” he said.

The city’s three golf courses and recreation facilities could also be outsourced to third-party service providers to operate and provide programming. The business cases will look at options of having community partners or associations provide recreation opportunities, including at the proposed Lewis Farms Recreation Centre in the west end.

A list of the 16 potential changes being explored can be found on the city’s website.

More to come.

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