Climate Update #21 - Calgary Parking Authority
As scheduling permitted, I wanted to take as many opportunities as I could to talk to The City’s arm’s length entities and their role in the fight against climate change. The Calgary Parking Authority fulfills the City’s parking mandates and implements parking policies by managing on- and off-street public parking facilities, enforcement programs and parking advisory services. I sat down with the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) to discuss their climate actions to date.
In the context of parking, there are limited actions to reduce environmental impacts as parking is the end result of a greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting action. Nevertheless, CPA’s identified goal from the Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy was to monitor demand for loading or special parking zones for commercial vehicles as well as demand for special parking zones for rideshare services. CPA went beyond this and took several steps to mitigate GHG emissions.
Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations - The CPA currently has 46 EV chargers available at six parkades. There is no additional cost for customers to use the chargers. Electric vehicle owners also receive priority placement on The City’s monthly contract waitlists.
Safe and accessible bike parking - The CPA offers monthly bicycle parking at five parkades, with over 200 available stalls. Customers pay $10 per month (plus GST) to park their bicycles in a secure and enclosed location.
Carpool Program - As part of the CPA's effort to reduce Calgary's carbon footprint, the Carpool Parking Program allows carpoolers enhanced access to monthly waiting lists.
LED Lighting - CPA is transitioning their facilities from high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting to LED to reduce their energy consumption. Four facilities have been fully upgraded, with a fifth in the works.
Hybrid Vehicles - CPA’s ParkPlus vehicles incorporate green technology whenever possible. Their current fleet is comprised of mainly hybrid vehicles (nearly 80%) and CPA is prioritizing hybrid or fully electric vehicles for any future vehicle purchases.
Electric Bikes - CPA’s Parking Safety and Compliance department will be testing e-bikes this year, with the potential of adding several bike officers to their fleet. This would reduce dependency on vehicles and utilize The City’s bike lane network.
Bike Mounted/Handheld Cameras - The CPA is investigating implementing GeminEye software from SenSen Network that would provide Licence Plate Recognition software on smart phones and could be used on bike and foot patrols. This would allow for additional opportunities to enforce via active modes of transportation.
Electronic Permit System (EPS) - The CPA manages the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) System, monthly Contract Management System (CMS) and the membership systems for ParkPlus clients including the Zoo, TELUS Spark, Heritage Park, Fort Calgary and more using their built in-house Electronic Permit System (EPS). Because they are able to use the licence plate as the vehicle identifier within the EPS, their systems do not require physical permits, hang tags, or decals, eliminating the level of paper and plastic that would otherwise be required. With over 57,000 active permits (residential and visitor) and over 35,000 active membership and contract users, the ability to manage these programs electronically substantially increases both sustainability and cost efficiency.
Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) technology - One example of the CPA’s LPR technology in action is found at the Calgary Zoo. With the volume of daily parkers that the Zoo receives, daily visits from multiple enforcement vehicles would typically be required. Instead, fixed cameras at the entrance and exit lanes capture licence plates through LPR technology, which allows for virtual enforcement 24/7. A car is only sent if there is an issue that requires further attention. In this way, LPR technology helps to reduce CPA’s environmental footprint as enforcement can take place without vehicle patrols.
Way-finding signage - The CPA have some of the best way-finding signage in the parking industry. They use real-time displays that indicate the number of available stalls and which level they can be found on and enhanced signage to direct customers around their facilities, reducing the need for customers to drive around unnecessarily trying to find a place to park. CPA also employ real-time travel information screens mounted at the exits of several parkades that display estimated commute times and accident alerts, helping people navigate around the city faster and thereby reduce their emissions.
Pay Machine Audit - Over the last year, the CPA removed approximately 16% of their on-street pay machine fleet; the machines that were selected for removal didn’t meet minimum usage requirements for 14 months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This not only promotes contactless methods of payment, but also reduces environmental impact by decreasing paper usage and eliminating on-site visits required for cash pick-ups, maintenance and technical support.
MyParking App - The CPA actively promotes the use of the MyParking app to pay for parking, a method that is contactless and environmentally friendly, reducing paper usage and the amount of service visits to the pay machines that are required. Recent enhancements include a portal allowing Residential Parking Permit visitor sessions to be managed using the app.
Last year, CPA added a “Local Deals” feature to the MyParking app, which unlocks coupon codes when starting a session from the app that customers can use at participating businesses. They also held a “Pay it Forward” campaign which provided a $5 parking credit for customers who used the MyParking app to pay for parking during the latter half of December. Customers could choose to apply the $5 credit to their ParkPlus account, or to pay it forward to a local charity partner.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by CPA’s work to help The City meet our Climate Targets. I encouraged them to continue the good work they’re already doing and to find creative ways to monitor demand for loading or special parking zones for commercial vehicles.