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New incentives for Downtown, fine adjustments for paid parking areas starting February 1

If you are compliant with the Traffic Bylaw and parking regulations, the coming changes will not impact you.

These changes to the Traffic Bylaw were created in direct consultation with representatives of the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC) and several business owners, then approved by Lethbridge City Council. The engagement group, which met throughout 2023, also included City staff from Transportation, Infrastructure Services and Communications and Engagement.

The new parking incentives and changes, which will start on February 1, include:

  • New enforcement hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This means there will be free parking in the downtown core Monday-Friday until 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. (change from the current enforcement hours of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to provide an additional 2.5 hours of extra time to conduct early and late day shopping without paying for parking. Free parking on weekends will remain
  • Zone 2 areas will be replaced by Zone 3 (the Downtown BRZ completed a direct survey and consultation process to implement this proposal and received overwhelming support). This will create more opportunities to stay longer at your favourite businesses. It will also create only two zones, rather than three zones, making the zones easier to understand
  • Top-up grace period increases to seven minutes (change from the current three minutes), to provide more time to top-up payment between transactions
  • New free parking days coming in 2024, sponsored by the City of Lethbridge (and to be decided in consultation with the Downtown BRZ and the HOCC), so stay connected to the City and Downtown BRZ and HOCC to know when these days will take place
  • Early payment reduction period increased to 10 days (change from the current seven days) If you do receive a parking ticket, you now have an additional three days to take advantage of the early payment fine reduction incentive
  • Enhanced maintenance program for the kiosks. If a kiosk is not working, any other kiosk will take a payment, or you can use one of the other options below

The City of Lethbridge offers a wide variety of ways to pay for parking. Those methods include coins, credit cards, re-loadable parking cards, mobile payment, debit tap, Google Pay, Apple Pay and the Business Add Time to Plate Program.

The City of Lethbridge had charged the lowest among comparable municipalities for parking fines. Fines are being raised to provide a deterrent to parking infractions, which helps ensure compliance with the City of Lethbridge’s parking regulations. Again, these changes were created in direct consultation with representatives of the Downtown BRZ, the HOCC and several business owners, then approved by Lethbridge City Council.

The new fine adjustments, which will also start on February 1, include:

  • Parking fines will be $40 (up from $25) in the downtown core (with an early payment incentive reduction of $20 if paid within 10 days)
  • Parking fines outside the downtown core will be $50 (up from $25, with an early payment incentive reduction of $15 if paid within 10 days)

The changes are to be carried out as a two-year pilot project, with an update to Council after one year. The engagement team will continue to monitor the proposed changes and report back to Council after the first year of implementation to ensure the program is successful.

“Our primary goals in establishing these changes are compliance, education and increased incentives for our Downtown businesses,” says Phillip Berg, Parking Coordinator. “As we have said throughout this collaborative process, our engagement group members all have a common goal of seeing a vibrant downtown. Through our discussions, we worked together in a productive fashion to find some compromises, propose creative ideas and generate some new incentives for parking Downtown.”

“We encourage businesses to share this information with their customers, as well as to find creative ways to use the new incentives,” says Sarah Amies, Executive Director of the Downtown BRZ. “I would again like to thank the BRZ members, the HOCC and the City of Lethbridge departments for their collegiality as we all worked together to support these changes and bring viable solutions to a sensitive topic. We worked collaboratively and intelligently towards solutions and outcomes that will, we hope, satisfy stakeholders affected by revisions to parking fines in 2024.”

“The Heart of Our City Committee wholeheartedly supports the updates to the parking fines program and believes the changes have found a mutually acceptable path forward that will allow City Administration, downtown businesses, and all the residents of Lethbridge to benefit in multiple ways,” says Lorien Johansen, Chair of the HOCC. “The new fine structure is on-par with other comparable municipalities in Canada, and with the many available options for compliance, residents will find it easier than ever to participate in this program and avoid the non-compliance penalties. Better than that, the new program includes exciting incentives to visit our downtown urban core. We would like to express our gratitude to City Council for listening to the feedback from the public on the original parking fines increase, for offering an opportunity for re-evaluation of the program, and for including our committee in the process of creating a new proposal.”

A comprehensive education campaign, including information postcards, social media posts and updated website content, will be developed and implemented alongside the new changes to allow residents and business to understand and embrace the parking program.

As there are more than 1,900 publicly accessible parking spaces in Downtown Lethbridge, there are convenient parking options for all budgets, vehicle types and destinations.

When parking spaces are available due to turnover, it becomes easier for customers to find parking near their desired destinations. This convenience can attract more visitors to commercial areas, boosting local businesses and economic activity. When parking is unrestricted, vehicle turnover and availability of parking stalls decreases substantially, and the lack of available parking hinders economic prosperity. Parking compliance is also an important safety feature for the transportation network across the city. Ensuring that penalties are enough of a deterrent is important in providing a safe transportation network for everyone.

Timeline and further background:

  • December 12, 2023: Lethbridge City Council voted unanimously in favour on second and third readings to Bylaw 6428 – Increase of Parking Fines/Traffic Bylaw Amendment
  • November 15, 2023: Council’s Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee hears new ideas on Downtown parking changes following partnership with business community
  • February 2023: Following an item in the 2023-2026 Operating Budget deliberations, which took place in November 2022, which proposed parking fine increases, public concern led City Council to direct administration to form a working engagement group with local businesses to find other possible options
  • 2013: Current paid parking rate of $1/hour was established
  • 2012: The reduction if paid within seven days was changed from $19 to $15
  • 1990: Parking fine amounts at $25 were introduced and had not changed since
  • 1963: At the request of Downtown businesses, paid parking Downtown started with rates established at $0.10/hour

More information and other FAQs on City of Lethbridge parking is available here.

For Public Inquiries:

Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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