Metro/file photo Calgary resident Phil Young purchases downtown parking via the ParkPlus system, data from which may soon be used to adjust parking rates, based on demand.

Those looking to grab lunch in downtown Calgary this summer should find it cheaper to park — provided they don’t mind walking a bit further to their restaurant.

That’s because the Calgary Parking Authority is looking to pilot a program that will offer noon-hour discounts to ParkPlus account holders who leave their vehicles in less-utilized parking zones.

“What we’re wanting to do this summer – as a promotion event – is to be able to have these locations identified, provide a discounted price, and then experiment to see if it’s having an impact on adjusting that parking activity,” CPA general manager Troy McLeod told Metro.

“We’ll identify the zones that have low occupancies, or basically lots of space,” he added. “Those zones will be discounted, say from 11:30 to 1:30.”

While that’s typically a busy time for parking, McLeod said CPA data shows there are pockets where plenty of spots are available, just not typically immediately in front of restaurants.

“It might be a block or two away,” he said.

But Maggie Schofield, executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association, figured people would be walking much farther than that.

“It’ll be more than a block or two,” she said. “You might be jumping on the train – which is not bad, either, because it’s the free zone. So, maybe that would help.”

Schofield said any incentive to bring more people downtown would be beneficial to core-area merchants, but to be really effective the program would have to “simple and well publicized.”

McLeod said the details are still being worked out, but the plan is to communicate which zones are eligible for discounts on the web and likely though text and email, too.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who during city budget discussions last November raised the idea of using parking incentives to attract more people downtown, was pleased by CPA’s plans.

“I’m excited that’s going forward on an experimental basis this summer,” he said.

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