Parking and Profit: sensible swaps for smart cities

We’ve all heard about the pandemic hurting hospitality businesses, especially those in city centres. Those temporary street parking for dining space swaps – parklets – have thown up some surprises

Toronto is relatable for here. A pretty car-centric (i.e. normal) Canadian city, and its citywide association of business improvement areas (what we call BIDs) has researched the economic impact of “CafeTO”, the city’s pandemic-initiated programme of on-street parklets for “curbside dining”. This good article gives the bigger picture.

Essentially: those bits of street space earned over 48 times more thanks to people being able to eat, drink, meet up there instead of only being able to store someone’s private car there. That’s a 480% increase in earnings.

Researchers for an association of local business improvement areas estimated that customers spent $181-million in the repurposed parking spaces in the summer of 2021. The same spaces would have generated $3.7-million in parking revenue, according to the local parking authority, and even that modest figure assumed prepandemic levels of demand.

The research is a really good read – easy to understand, and totting up the full costs including to build the parklets, and the charges businesses paid. For the context in council’s annual transport budget.

If public car parking is down the list of best uses for street space, after parklets and delivery vehicles, how best could we use it to help hospitality and other businesses in our centres?

Further reading

More parking coolness on Talk Wellington

Image credits:

  • Banner –
  • Parklet: Carlos Osorio, The Globe and Mail

One comment on “Parking and Profit: sensible swaps for smart cities”

  • Julienz says:

    Only problem is that the “public share” of the spending in these parklets goes to central government through GST on consumer spending, PAYE from the staff serving the customers, and income tax paid by business owners. Where is central government giving the city the share they sacrificed from losing the parking meter money? Currently the Crown (aka central government) that collects all these taxes does not even pay rates on the land it owns.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our Newsletter

Unsubscribe any time.