Calgary Transportation: Parking

[ On-Street Parking | Parking Lots | Tickets & Towing ]

Centennial Parkade on 9th Ave SW

If you drive, convenient and (some argue) reasonably priced parking is important. Over the past few years, parking in downtown Calgary has become scarce, as open parking lots, left bare in the last "oil recession" have become holes in the ground, then construction sites, to become completed office or condo towers. There is a number of handy parkades, lots (particularly along 9th Avenue) and street parking in the city core. The population growth over the late 90s has strained parking available for office workers. Outside the downtown core, parking (on-street and off) is generally plentiful (but be careful!).

Navigating downtown's one-way streets may seem like a challenge, but there's usually a lot on any street. At red lights, of course, you can make both right and left turns from a one-way onto another one-way street.

On-Street Parking

Calgary has abandoned the time-tested method of individual parking meters for the new "ParkPlus" system, where you park, find a the closest solar-powered ParkPlus paystation, enter your vehicle's license number and parking "zone" number, and arrange payment. You can pay by coin, credit card or with your cell phone (when an account has been set up before-hand). Small cars (like the Smart car) get a discount. The machines generate a printed receipt (great for business tax deductibility) and you do not need to return to your car to put the receipt o the dashboard. Cellphone accounts are convenient, because they have your licence number pre-programmed, and you can call if your meeting is extended to add to your time, or conversely, if your meeting ended early, you get a credit for your un-used time. Enforcement is done by cars with a dozen cameras mounted on them and GPS units, which drive around the neighbourhoods with ParkPlus and record every car parked... a computer compares the license numbers with the ParkPlus payment records for each zone, and unpaid or overtime offenders are emailed their tickets. It's hard to fight the time-stamped digital evidence.

ParkPlus meters have been expanded from streets in the downtown are and now cover city parking lots, LRT parking lots*, and 4th Street, 17th Avenue, the "Beltline area" south of downtown, the Kensington-Louise Bridge shopping district, and the Inglewood shopping district (and more areas may be added over time). IF you see a ParkPlus Zone # sign where you might think a parking meter used to be, then you better look for the nearby ParkPlus meter to prepay for your spot. "Running inside for a minute" is not a defense if that minute a ParkPlus camera car passes by and sees your infraction.

* Transit parking has been instituted to (a) get non-residents (out of towners) who do not pay Calgary property taxes, yet use Calgary Transit system to pay extra and (b) encourage those living in the suburbs to take buses to the LRT station. Transit parkers can now buy monthly parking pass is available for Calgary Transit Park and Ride lots giving the convenience of paying once a month ($60/month= $57.14 plus $2.86 GST) rather than daily, and c an be used at any Calgary Transit Park and Ride lot.

On-street parking meters are enforced Monday through Saturday, from 8 am to 6 pm. The meters around Eau Claire Market are 24-hour meters, seven days a week, and ENFORCED by Impark. The underground parking at Eau Claire is often cheaper than the meters.

Different "zone" areas may have different maximum times. Regardless of whether you think you paid for more time, you may still get a ticket. And do not park on a major traffic artery after 3:30 pm. Vehicles parked after that time are ticketed AND towed! 11th Avenue and 17th Avenue in the "Beltline" area (just south of downtown) are two such surprise arteries.

Be cautious when you park in the "Beltline" area south of downtown, between the railway tracks and 17th Avenue, from Macleod Trail and 11th Street SW. This area has a two hour parking restriction, to prevent downtown workers from tying up the streets, and to keep spots available for the retail businesses and restaurants. It used to be an old trick to run out of the office to move the car a bit (or just erase the meter maid's chalk mark on the tire), but the ParkPlus camera car makes cheating near impossible.

Never park in a loading zone (unless you have commercial plates), or within 5 metres (yards) of a fire hydrant, alley, driveway, or intersection or a fire hydrant. You WILL be ticketed.

Parking Lots

There are a lot of parking lots in downtown Calgary either on the surface, above ground, or underground.

In the early 80's, many downtown buildings were demolished in the construction frenzy of the oil boom. The untimely end of the boom left plenty of unused land for conversion into parking lots. Just before the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, lot owners paved and fenced their lots, to improve appearances. Some lots have electrical plug-ins (look for these in cold weather).

Most office buildings have parking for their tenants and visitors> there are also several public parkades:

  • McDougall Centre (between 4 and 5 Avenues, between 6 and 7 Streets)
  • James Short, across from the Petro-Canada Building, accessed from 4th Avenue
  • Centennial Parkade (along 9th Avenue between 6th and 5th Streets)
  • Gulf Canada (between 9th and 10th Avenues between 4th and 2 Street)
  • Bow Parkade along 6th Avenue between 1st St & 2nd St)

The fire department prohibits propane tanks (found typically in taxis, campers or R.V.s) in underground parkades. In that case, you must use a surface lot or above-ground parkade.

Special Weekend Rates

On weekends and evenings several of the large downtown shopping complexes have reduced parking rates to encourage shoppers.





The CORE - TD Square 4th Street SW between 7th Saturday & Sunday: First 3 hours are FREE, $2.00 flat rate following.same.
Holt Renfrew Parkade 8th Avenue SW between 4th and 5th St Saturday & Sunday: First 3 hours are FREE, $2.00 flat rate following. same.
The CORE - TD Square - Holt Renfrew 3rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue FREE Valet Parkingsame.
Eau Clairein front of Eau Clair YMCA$1/day$1/day
Eau Claireoff 2 Ave, between 2 St & 3 St$2/day$2/day

Tickets & Towing

If you are the unlucky recipient of a City of Calgary parking ticket, you have 15 days to pay before being mailed a final notice for payment, and another 15 days to pay. If your ticket is still unpaid, then the city sets a court date typically in one month. If you fail to appear in court, you are found guilty by default and fined an additional $20.00 (on top of the ticket).

You can also GET ARRESTED for "Failure to Appear in Court" at which time you will be asked to pay your outstanding fines...or else stay a while... Usually the police are quite nice and often drive you by your local friendly instant teller on the way to the police station. If you get caught by the police for any other reason (say at a Checkstop) you will get detained... a rather nasty surprise.

Even if you successfully evade the police, the fines must be paid when you renew your driver's license or vehicle registration. You must first pay the entire sum of your outstanding fine(s) before getting your renewal.

Should you happen to receive a parking ticket issued by anyone of the private parking companies and do not pay it in the stipulated time, it usually ends up with a collection agency. If violate the parking regulations on any of the same company's lots (for example, if you are a repeat offender) then they may tow your car to the city impound lot.

Towed & Impounded Vehicles
If your car is towed, no need to panic. The city impound is only 50 meters north of the 39th Avenue C-Train stop on the Southwest LRT line (City Police Impound, 400 39 Ave SE, 403-537-7111), and only two blocks east of MacLeod Trail. Every cab driver can take you there. The well-secured impound lot is open seven days a week 24-hours a day (subject to change).

If your vehicle has been impounded because of a parking infraction the same-day towing & storage cost is typically between $$54 (plus kilometer towing change) up to $220.50 (plus kilometres chanrge) which may be paid with cash or a credit or debit card (no cheques). $14.00 per day is added to your tab for storage after one day (if vehicle is towed you will not be charged any strage fees for the first 12 HOURS).
Be prepared to show your valid license and proof of ownership (they'll let you get it if its in your car). If you are not the owner of the vehicle tries to un-impound a vehicle, then you must also have the owner's written authorization and proof of ownership (if its a rental car, the rental contract will do).

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