You may have seen this while strolling down in the streets of New York City or Chicago, where a few elevated parking lots can be found, or while watching the 2011 movie Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol, where a vertical parking structure is used as the set of a quite intense fist fight.

Vertical parking is a brilliant idea which allows a property owner to increase parking capacity through multiple levels using mechanical lifts and hydraulic systems. The practical applications are multiple : parking lot operators can turn small plots of land into profitable operations, residential and commercial developers are able to meet parking ratios in places where this would not have been possible using traditional parking, and car dealerships can save a lot of space for their inventory when dealing with smaller locations.

From a legal standpoint, though, one should be cautious to make proper preliminary verifications before resorting to vertical parking to save the day.

First, property owners or developers considering this type of parking arrangement will want to check with the municipal authorities to confirm whether or not the use of elevated parking will be accepted in the context of the parking ratio calculations, given the applicable zoning by-law requirements. Also, from a property tax standpoint, the municipal authorities may consider that the elevated parking structure will need to be taken into consideration in the overall assessment of the property, depending on the system used and its level of integration with the building. This will of course have an important impact on the overall property taxes being charges by the municipal authorities, and may eventually become an important issue if this has not been accurately planned or communicated to the end-buyer. Finally, property owners and developers will also want to properly plan the delivery and installation of such elevated parking systems and structures in the context of the overall construction projects, and they will also want to contract proper warranties from the systems’ manufacturers and installers.

With the densification of urban areas and the more and more stringent parking ratios, vertical parking structures will likely become a common sight in major Canadian cities in the years to come. Toronto has seen a few of these types of parking arrangements lately and we can only wish that these will become more and more common in order to increase development opportunities.