The need for a car is becoming more redundant, especially in urban areas like Downtown Toronto where public transport is easily accessible and all kinds of amenities are available within walking distance. Walkable neighbourhoods have always been a top choice among Toronto condo buyers, and with new ways of transportation available, like Lyft or Uber, owning a car has become more obsolete. While the need for cars is diminishing, the need for housing and other infrastructure projects is rising, and to accommodate the growing demand for more residential units, more office space, more parks, etc., in the downtown core, we see more and more parking lots being turned into more usable space. Let’s take a deeper look at how parking is changing in Downtown Toronto and how it affects the Downtown Toronto lifestyle.
Parking lots are turned into valuable land for new housing projects
The shortage of available developmental land in Toronto has been one of the challenges for land developers for many years, so to create more housing supply, Toronto city officials started to make room for such projects by turning parking lots into viable land for new construction. City officials also reduced the required number of parking spaces per project, so residential developers now only have to provide for parking spaces for units that are 2 bedroom and larger. This should not be a major concern, given that many Toronto condo buyers prefer units without a parking stall to avoid unnecessary costs (as condos with parking cost a minimum of fifty thousand dollars or more). As a matter of fact, land developers started noticing that parking spaces do not sell as much as they used to, which is another sign that more Downtown Toronto buyers are slowly foregoing their cars.
Walkable cities require less parking space
Toronto is a walkable and eco-friendly city that encourages walking, cycling and a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it have a great public transportation infrastructure, but it also invests a lot in bike lanes, walking trails, green spaces, etc. This becomes obvious when we look at the new condo developments and master communities that are all designed to enable residents a pedestrian and cycling-friendly environment with parks and trails, transit shuttle services and no-car areas. Toronto also continues to adapt and is expanding its bike share program into all corners of the city now covering 200 square kilometres of the city of Toronto giving a great alternative to motorized vehicles.
Parking lots are becoming home to EV charging stations
To support the growing number of electric car drivers, city officials started to add EV charging stations, and many of them were installed on surface parking lots. There are 805 charging stations in and nearby Toronto, and 464 of them are currently free. As electric cars are becoming mainstream, new residential condo and commercial buildings in the downtown Toronto area are now offering level 2 charging plugs which can charge a car on average in 4-6 hours. Aside from EV stations, new condominium projects such as POWER at 50 Power Street, Toronto, being built by Great Gulf Homes, is offering electric charging plugs to be added to an owned parking stall for an additional fee.
We have also seen buildings retrofit current parking stalls to offer charging stations for their residents. The Condominium building VU at 112 and 116 George Street in the St. Lawrence Market area of Downtown Toronto brought the electrical system into their underground parking and residents had the option to add the charging plugs at a cost that was slightly higher than what a new construction project is offering. Having a parking space with the ability to charge electric vehicles can add value in the long run as buyers may look for units with this specific feature.
Downtown Toronto City dwellers prefer car share programs
The car share network expansion in Toronto has further pushed the need for car ownership in the background, so instead of buying a car, many Downtown Toronto condo dwellers opt for a car share, like Communauto, Zipcar or Maven to get around. Simply having the opportunity to rent a car by the hour that covers insurance, maintenance and gas, seems more efficient for the modern urban population than having a car.
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