Downtown Parking Strategy

How to Participate

Our initial public survey closed on February 18th, 2019. Thanks to the over 900 people who responded. 

The results are in: download the summary report (11 pages) or the full results report (26 pages).


  • 70% agree with working towards “reliable, better allocated parking, so that people know where they can go to find parking and they can be sure that a parking space will be waiting for them there”. Only 6% were against.
  • There is a strong interest in improving transit and creating a robust park-and-ride system. 69% want to invest parking revenue into this; only 11% disagree.
  • There is support for free commuter parking outside of the downtown in order to encourage use and leave core parking for short-term and residential parking.
  • Day-rate commuter parking is slightly more popular than monthly permits. This likely reflects the needs of part-time workers.
  • There is a strong desire to use the parkade entirely for all-day commuter parking.
  • People want to pay for parking with an app, and prefer this over paystations.
  • Improving active transportation infrastructure is seen by many as key to the parking strategy. This includes improving cycling ease-of-use as well as keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the winter.
  • There is some interest in reforming the residential parking permit system, but not as much support as staff expected.

There was broad discontent with long trucks, especially with snowmobiles, using angle parking. Although some people are frustrated by getting parking tickets, more respondents believed that there isn’t enough parking enforcement, especially in Lower Uphill. There is general dissatisfaction with the two-hour parking model in Lower Uphill, which work neither for residents (they cannot find parking) nor for commuters who are required to move their vehicles every two hours.

Timeline of Key Events

Phase 1 (January and February 2019): Listen, Learn, and Collect

  • Initial consultation (idea crowdsourcing), including with the business community
  • Collect data

Phase 2 (March 2019): Coming Up with Proposals

Phase 3: Consult

Phase 4: Implement

What Has Happened So Far

Summer 2016: first data collection on parking in the downtown and research on parking demand management best practices
April 2017: Draft parking strategy document (view here)
January 2018: Implemented new residential permit application process to better enforce eligibility

As downtown Nelson becomes busier, the availability of convenient parking in the downtown has been raised as an issue by the business community, visitors and the community at large. Council had identified the need to develop a parking strategy as a priority in their 2015-2018 Strategic Plan. The City established an internal parking committee that has been working since the beginning of the year to develop a draft strategy. Staff presented the draft parking strategy to Council on May 15, 2017 and were directed to develop a consultation process with stakeholders.

The draft strategy includes a vision for more efficient use of existing downtown parking as well as opportunities to develop new parking, identification of guiding principles, and strategies and actions for implementing those principles.

In 2016, staff completed an initial review of parking availability in the downtown. This review included paid meters, free two-hour parking zones, institutional and private parking, handicap stalls and loading zones. During the summer review period, it was determined that the average occupancy of public stalls throughout the entire downtown core parking area was 75%, with key locations on Baker, Vernon, Victoria, Kootenay and Josephine Streets being well over 85% during the hours between 10:00am to 4:00pm. Optimal parking stall occupancy is considered to be 85%. With an average of 75% utilization, Nelson’s downtown core is slightly below optimal use. It was also noted in this review, that handicap stalls (50% occupied) and institutional and private parking appeared underutilized, that loading zones were well used and the 15 minute meters were causing confusion for drivers.