On Tuesday, city council approved the 2024 parking structure subsidy rates, which total $24 per square foot for above-grade parking structures, while below-grade parking totals a rate of $31.50 per square foot.

Adena Malyk, Downtown Revitalization Coordinator told city council that the subsidy rates are set annually, as part of the downtown incentives policy.

"This was intentionally done as this particular incentive stream is a unique type of funding, where the city specifically funds private development," she explained. "It also has a finer degree of detail and could involve a significant amount of funding that council should be the approving body for."

She noted that the parking subsidy is council's commitment to industry that the municipality will address a barrier to development and help mitigate the cost of constructing parking structures.

"Parking structures can be costly as part of a development and building an above or below-grade structure can aid in achieving the parking requirements on constraint sites within our community revitalization lobby area. The rates have been calculated by taking 15 per cent of the high per square foot construction costs in Calgary for free-standing parking garages and underground parking garages."

Malyk further explained that the Altus Construction guide was used and is considered the standard benchmark within the construction industry.

"We know from the industry that anything 15 per cent or greater provides impact on an overall development performa; we chose to go with the high per square foot cost because of the constraints of development size and nature within the CRL (Community Revitalization Levy) area, existing groundwater conditions and the high parking requirements within our land use bylaw."

Although council approved the rates, Deputy Mayor Al Jones was the lone vote against it. Some of the deputy mayor's concerns stemmed from the rates of the subsidies.

"I'd be more comfortable knocking the above-ground [parking subsidy] down to $20 and putting that difference on the underground, which is where the real hardship is, as far as getting people to commit and raising that to $35," Councillor Jones said. "I think $20 per foot because we're talking square foot, not square mete;  is very generous for above ground. That's a lot of money and might spur people to look a little more at the underground."

Jones added that he was also thinking of the idea in terms of smaller areas where above-ground parking could be utilized for affordable housing or new commercial buildings.

"... Where they could do underground parking, just just trying to eliminate that sprawl. That's my perception; that's what I'd like to see."

Mayor Brown asked Malyk if adjusting the subsidy rates would be enough to spur someone to consider the other options, to which Malyk said she couldn't be certain.

"I would recommend and suggest that we go forward as presented as this is our first time doing it. It's a unique funding stream and we don't know how many applications we're going to get," Malyk replied. "I've had some very early conversations with a couple of potential applicants and they were very satisfied with what we're bringing forward."

Councillor Tina Petrow asked for clarification on performance measures.

"In the document, it talks about council having the option to stay disbursements based on the available funds or performance measures when doing these; that's where my comfort would lie - is that we don't just give lump sums of money right at the beginning and that the funding is dispersed through the project based on performance measures."

Malyk did underline that council has purview and administration will go back to council for further direction. Deputy Jones said this is what confused him, stating that it seemed redundant to discuss the issue. However, Malyk said that there has to be a set subsidy rate to give clarity to potential developers.

"What will come back to council is a recommendation from administration on [a] potential application with an outline or some context behind what the application is for and then council is approving the overall funding amount, as well as a potential disbursement schedule." 

According to city documents, the approved 2024 subsidy rates will be posted on the City’s website within the guidelines for the subsidy stream guidelines, and will also be communicated verbally to potential applicants when they approach the City with their development proposals.  

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@discoverairdrie.com. You can also message and follow us on Twitter: @AIR1061FM

DiscoverAirdrie encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the DiscoverAirdrie app. For breaking news, weather and contest alerts click here