How to Avoid Getting a Parking Ticket in Calgary

1. Watch for signs

As the pressure for on-street parking continues to build, more areas in Calgary will have posted parking restrictions. New residential parking permit zones are added each year, time-limited areas expand and rush-hour signage multiplies.

Please check signage and time restrictions downtown carefully. Many major roadways in the downtown core have rush-hour no-stopping zones. If your vehicle is parked at one of these locations during the posted rush-hour times, it will be towed and impounded.

In addition, watch for temporary parking restriction signs such as construction zones and street cleaning signs that are posted on normally quiet and busy streets.

2. Pay for parking

Most parking tickets issued in Calgary are for failing to pay for parking in ParkPlus zones. The City of Calgary Traffic Bylaw states that motorists intending to use a metered space, a ticket-controlled space, or a zone controlled space are to make payment for parking "immediately after parking the vehicle."

Once you've pulled into a ParkPlus parking zone, make a note of the ParkPlus Zone number located on signs lining the street on which you've parked. Then look for one of the ParkPlus Pay Machines or pay by cell phone. You can make payment at ANY curbside ParkPlus pay machine.

Paying at the machine:

  1. Enter the four-digit zone number for the area in which you are parked
  2. Enter your license plate
  3. Make payment by either inserting coins ($2, $1, $0.25)** until "paid to time" is adequate or insert a credit card (VISA, MasterCard or AMEX) as shown on the front of the pay machine. Remove credit card when requested and select the appropriate time required by pressing the + (add) or "Max Time" buttons.
  4. Press button for optional receipt (a receipt is not required for the dash, but you may need one for your personal records)

**Please note that the pay machines do not provide change.

Paying by cell phone:

Once you open an account online at www.parkplus.ca you can start (and stop) a parking session with your cell phone:

  • by calling (403) 537-PARK (7275) and follow the voice prompts;
  • by using Text to Park and texting the four-digit zone number to 77587;
  • or by using the MyParking app for the iPhone and logging into your account and using the Start Session feature.

We understand that it takes a few moments to park your car, find a ParkPlus pay machine and pay for parking. This is why there is a short grace period before and after every paid parking session no matter which form of payment is used.

Loading or unloading? Dropping off a passenger?

If you need to load or unload your vehicle, use a loading zone so you don't have to pay for parking. You can remain parked in a loading zone for the maximum length of time as posted on-street.

If you're dropping off or picking up a passenger in a ParkPlus zone, a small payment of even $0.25 will ensure you don't receive a ticket. Enforcement officers may exercise discretion in issuing a parking ticket only if they can see evidence of loading or unloading at the time the photo is captured. Please ensure your loading or unloading actions are visible.

Learn more about ParkPlus by visiting www.ParkPlus.ca.

3. Be careful in alleys

There are several parking restrictions in alleys. Vehicles will be ticketed and may be impounded for:

  • blocking the alley (leaving less than 3 metres clearance)
  • blocking a private driveway or garage (leaving less than 1.5m clearance)
  • blocking a signed fire door
  • obstructing traffic
  • Central Traffic Zone alley - commercial vehicle maximum 20 min
  • Narrow Alley - 6.1m or less
  • Electrical Transformer - leaving less than 3 metres clearance

4. Stay away from corners

The space at the end of the block is an inviting temptation to the frustrated driver looking for parking. Beware! The bylaw requires vehicles to park 5 metres from the inside edge of the intersecting sidewalk. How far is 5 metres? It's roughly 16 feet, which is over a car length. This restriction is intended to provide pedestrians, cyclists and motorists with both a clear field of vision and plenty of space when approaching intersections.

5. Leave bus stops for buses

Drivers often pull into bus stops to wait for a friend, buy a cup of coffee or use a bank machine. Even a quick stop blocks the zone, forcing Calgary Transit drivers to unload or load passengers on the street.

This is a potential hazard for elderly and handicapped passengers and an inconvenience for other motorists when the bus is unable to pull into the zone.

6. Park safely at schools

Each year, the CPA receives numerous complaints about how people park in these school zones. To ensure the safety of children who are being dropped off or picked up at school, please follow these tips:

1. Avoid double parking;

2. Watch for signs indicating `No Stopping' and `No Parking' zones;

3. Keep school bus zones clear so children can step off the bus and onto a curb instead of exiting into a busy street;

4. Leave 5 metres between your car and any crosswalk markings. This will ensure children are visible when they enter the crosswalk;

5. Park a least 5 metres from stop signs, yield signs or intersections so that you can clearly see any children in the area; and

6. Avoid blocking entrances to garages or driveways. Stay back at least 1.5 metres.

7. Know the difference between "no parking" and "no stopping"

The "No Stopping" symbol is the most restrictive parking regulation. Once a vehicle has ceased moving, even if it is occupied, it is deemed stopped.Bus, Tour Bus, Taxi, Commercial and No Stopping zones are all off limits to unauthorized vehicles. If you choose to stop in any of these zones, you can be ticketed and towed.

The "No Parking" symbol is less restrictive. Drivers are allowed to use these zones (e.g. Passenger, Loading, and No Parking Anytime) to load or unload goods or to pick up or discharge passengers while actively engaging in loading and unloading the vehicle.

8. Respect residential parking restrictions

In response to neighbourhood concerns about parking pressures, the City of Calgary has established 71 residential parking permit zones. These areas are clearly posted and for the exclusive use of area residents. Visitor permits can be issued to qualifying households in residential parking zones.

Parking Enforcement patrols these areas seven days a week to ensure residents have access to on-street parking in their neighbourhood. Learn more about Residential Parking Permits.

9. Leave Accessible parking spaces for the disabled

Accessible spaces are a necessity - not a privilege for those with disabilities. Please be courteous and leave accessible spaces for those who truly need them.

Accessible parking is only enforced through signage. Symbols painted on the roadway do not legally mark an accessible parking stall.

A government issued handicapped placard must be visible to the officer from the exterior of the vehicle. Please watch for accessible parking zones in residential areas. In most cases only one sign will be present with an arrow and a zone length in meters.

10. Avoid a trip to the Impound Lot

Please double check your license plate registration. Expired or missing plates will result in your vehicle being towed and impounded.

Know your property lines. If your vehicle is parked in the public right of way i.e. in a narrow alley, it will be subject to being towed and impounded if it's blocking access, considered abandoned, or is missing or has expired plates.

11. Get to know your neighbours

Most parking issues in residential areas can be resolved by neighbours discussing the problem and working toward a mutually beneficial solution for all involved. Remember, the road space in front of your house does not belong to you. The public roadway belongs to all Calgarians. It is not for the primary use of the adjoining property owner.

12. Err on the side of caution

Have I parked too close to the corner? What do those signs mean? Am I blocking another vehicle? If you're not sure, find another spot.

Parking Enforcement receives thousands of complaints each year from people inconvenienced by a poor parking decision.