Parking Demand Remains Low as Remote Work Continues to Rise

Parking lot demand falls as remote work rises
Photo by Krzysztof Kotkowicz on Unsplash

Office parking lots became empty during the beginning of the pandemic as employees started working from home. But more than 2.5 years later, parking demand is still below what it was before the outbreak.

According to Ralph Bond of BA Consulting, the demand for workplace parking in Canada is still between 25 and 30 percent lower than it was before to COVID-19.

Here’s what Ralph Bond said to CTV:

“There was quite a drastic drop initially, but generally, parking is picking back up. But for office workers — it’s a lot slower because people are still tending to work from home and so the demand for office parking, as opposed to retail parking, is still quite low. In my office, we have 100 employees and, for example, there’s only 20 or 25 of them (working in the office) at any one time and so that’s lowered the demand for parking.”

Ralph Bond, BA Consulting

In spite of the fact that most pandemic restrictions have been repealed, remote work has persisted in many organizations, and according to Bond, demand for office parking may never reach its pre-pandemic levels.

Bond further reveals that parking lot operators are trying to get creative to retain their business.

“If they’re surface lots, they’ve looked at actually holding drive-in movies, concerts, children’s events, entertainment events. In parking garages, some people are starting to look at using that parking for storage space or for delivery vehicles if the parking isn’t utilized. I think they’re taking a wait-and-see approach and, depending on how it unfolds, you may see people also reluctant to build new parking before they’re sure they can make good use of what they already have.”

Ralph Bond, BA Consulting

Zoning laws mandate a minimum number of parking spaces per building in the majority of Canadian cities, but an increasing number of municipalities are considering removing these minimum parking requirements to lower construction costs and encourage more environmentally friendly forms of transportation. According to Bond, the cost to develop an underground parking lot might reach $100,000 per spot.

While Toronto dropped parking requirements for new residential complexes in December 2021, Edmonton councillors decided to do so in June 2020. Regina and Vancouver are also considering taking similar actions.

Bond predicts that many of these parking lots will wind up being transformed into something new if parking demand doesn’t increase.

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