Play of the Week #9
By Alexander Wray
Downtown London’s Courtesy Delivery & Pickup Zones
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many restaurants in Ontario to adopt curbside takeout and delivery models. These models rely on having sufficient sidewalk space to have an outdoor counter or takeout window for service, and nearby short-term parking for delivery drivers and customers. Restaurants located in core areas along main streets are uniquely challenged given that many do not have their own dedicated parking lots, or short-term spaces in front of their locations. Parking fees in nearby lots and streets also adds costs that may deter delivery drivers and consumers, with the minimum spend to park in any municipal lot on on-street space often equating to more than 30 minutes of parking time. This situation has led to illegal parking on main streets in bike lanes and sidewalks, tickets being issued to underpaid delivery drivers, and consumers choosing restaurants outside of the core area with free parking options. In response, the City of London has implemented “Courtesy Delivery & Pickup Zones” in Downtown London in proximity to clusters of restaurants. These zones are typically spaces previously reserved for loading or paid parking. Any vehicle is provided with 10-20 minutes of free parking in these spaces to make deliveries and/or pickup orders. These spaces are also located on side streets instead of along the busier main streets of Dundas Place and Richmond Street. This placement should avoid disrupting those businesses that are reliant on takeout and delivery, while also supporting a high-quality streetscape that can be opened to people and patios in the summer months!
“I think it [third-party delivery services] plays a very important role because not a lot of restaurants are able to hire staff just for the sole purpose of delivery.” – Third-Party Delivery Driver, London ON
“You get higher rates in downtown that forces chains and restaurants to go to the suburbs. You are punishing the locally owned businesses that are here. You get free parking in the suburbs, but not here. How about you build some parking lots downtown that are free.” – Business Owner, London ON
“So in trying to offer up the opportunity for patios, we also have this really big push towards curbside pickup and quick drop off. It really starts competing for the right of way and for the parking spaces that we do have in our streets. We’ve been trying to address it in certain areas where that has come up as a desire from the businesses. But certainly, the downtown is really kind of the key destination for a lot of restaurants, especially local. So we try to support them as best we can to keep local businesses here.” – Planner at City of London, London ON