The first sortie in what could be a downtown parking price war could see commuters finally catching a break, the head of the city’s parking authority says.

Dale Fraser, general manager of the Calgary Parking Authority, said a recent move by Impark to drastically slash prices at a pair of 9 Ave. S.W. lots on the periphery of the core is still isolated, but if the trend grows, it could see motorists score some savings.

“Right now it’s very isolated but we will monitor it and if there are changes in the overall marketplace, we would be looking to reduce our parking rates,” he said.

“(Impark) is really taking some unusual steps to fill these lots.”

The Vancouver-based company, which did not return a call for comment yesterday, is Calgary’s largest private parking operator and has made major cuts to its hourly and early bird rates at the two lots on the west end of downtown.

The CPA sets its prices based on the average set by private operators but doesn’t lead the way nor undercut competitors, Fraser said.

Last November council approved hourly increases at both parking meters and public parkades in response to soaring industry costs, but Fraser said those could go the other way if that’s what the market dictates.

Rory Woolf, general manager of the Calgary branch of Vinci Park, the second largest private operator has been lowering its prices at Beltline and west Calgary lots since October but has no interest in getting into a pricing battle.

“Our revenues are down but we’re not at the point where we’re going to get into a price war,” he said.

“We’ve done our rates according to what makes market sense and we’re not going to panic because we’ve got a bit of space open.”

Vinci has lowered its rates by as much as 25 per cent at eight of its 50 lots, primarily in the Beltline and downtown west side.