Vancouver parking rates are high, but not the highest.

Vancouver commuters shocked at how much their parking rates have increased this year may or may not take comfort in learning that their rates are still not the nation’s highest.

That honour belongs to Calgary, where the median monthly cost for an unreserved space runs $472.50 a month, up 4.2 per cent from 2010, according to Colliers International’s 11th annual world parking survey, released Wednesday.

After Calgary comes Toronto, then Montreal. Downtown Vancouver, however, jumped to fourth most expensive from fifth in 2010, thanks to an eightper-cent increase in the median monthly price for an unreserved stall, due largely to the harmonized sales tax. The increase put downtown Vancouver’s rates at a median of $288.

“When the survey was done this year in June, it obviously captured the implementation of the HST, which is an added seven per cent,” said Kirk Kuester, managing director of Colliers International’s Vancouver office.

The HST, however, is calculated on rates after TransLink’s regional parking tax is added on to prices. So the total tax portion of that median parking price has risen to 35.52 per cent compared with 27.05 per cent, said James Lang, Colliers’ director of research in Vancouver.

The minimum rate Colliers encountered in its survey of office buildings in Vancouver’s central business district was $169 per month for an unreserved stall. The highest price it saw was $500 per month, with an average of $300.

Kuester doesn’t see many reasons for downtown parking rates to climb much higher.

“I would say that with TransLink and the massive improvement the city is experiencing in terms of transit, and the continued urbanization -people moving to the downtown core [and] living where they work, I just believe the demand-side of our market has reached at or near peak.”

In an interview, Kuester said that in recent tours of new residential buildings in downtown Vancouver, he has noticed fewer occupied parking stalls, which indicates to him that more people choosing to live downtown are also forgoing cars altogether.

“I don’t really see how [parking] rents can go a whole lot further in the downtown core at this point in time.”

It’s a different picture from conditions in price-leading Calgary, where a lot more people drive.

“Calgary is Calgary,” he said. “People live in their cars. They ignore transit and don’t care how tight parking is, they just want to park.”

Calgary’s parking rates put it second to only New York City, with a median rate of $541 US per month, as the most expensive city to leave a car in North America, according to the Colliers report.

Canadian prices are still a long way off the most expensive markets, however.

Colliers ranked London City as the most expensive place to park in the world at $1,084 US a month.

London’s West End was a close second at $1,014 US and Zurich third at $822 US, with Hong Kong and Tokyo at $744 US per month rounding out the world’s top five priciest parking markets.

No North American cities cracked the top 10 globally.

depenner@vancouversun.com

CANADIAN PARKING RATES

Median monthly parking rates in Canada, with percentage change since last year in brackets:

1. Calgary $472.50 (+4.2%)

2. Toronto $332.38 (-1.2%)

3. Montreal $296.21 (+5.6%)

4. Vancouver $287.98 (+7.9%)

5. Edmonton $275.00 (0.0%)

6. Ottawa $195.00 (-6.6%)

7. Victoria $184.80 (+2.7%)

8. Saskatoon $170.00 (+1.8%)

9. Regina $168.00 (+3.2%)

10. Halifax $166.75 (+5.4%)

11. Winnipeg $152.25 (0.0%)

12. Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. $128.24 (+9.7%)

National average: $235.76 (+2.6%)

Source: Colliers International

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