06/20/2014 06:39 EDT | Updated 08/20/2014 05:59 EDT

David Soknacki proposes banning street parking in downtown Toronto

Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki wants to ban street parking in the downtown core in an effort to ease gridlock.

Noted underdog in the race, Soknacki said Friday morning that phasing out street parking on major arteries south of Bloor Street, north of Front Street, east of Spadina Avenue and west of Jarvis Street would work towards curbing road congestion.

“I’m proposing a ban on on-street parking in the downtown core,” Soknacki said.

“Gridlock is such a reality that lane space on key roads is more valuable to move people than it is to park cars,” he said in a release. “New private and public off-street parking can compensate for parking demand over the course of the phase-out.”

If elected, his plan would be to phase out the parking over three years, finishing by 2019.  

Soknacki said the idea isn’t that “radical” but rather one that many other cities have tried on key thoroughfares, adding that Toronto itself implemented a ban on street parking in 1931 under Mayor William Stewart.

The ban, however, did not last due to complaints about a loss for local businesses.

Many at city hall are questioning how such a ban could affect local businesses.

“I don’t agree with that at all," said Counc. Doug Ford. "It will kill the businesses downtown."

Fellow mayoral candidate Olivia Chow also says the ban is perhaps going too far, urging that restrictions can be made rather than a blanket ban.

“Having a blanket statement saying no parking anywhere in downtown will hurt small businesses, especially if it’s not rush hour and not that busy… why would you do that?” Chow said.

But Soknacki said times are different and, unlike the Toronto of 1931, “we have thousands more off-street parking spots to support core businesses” with many workers and patrons also arriving by subway, foot and bicycle

“We have a far greater need for the extra lanes on key streets during rush hour,” he said, adding that he would add extra parking options including additional deck on existing Green P lots.