Those who frequent West Vancouver parks should make use of their final chance to park their cars for free this summer, as paid parking will be enforced at three of its most popular parks once the season ends.
West Vancouver council voted unanimously Monday evening to enforce paid parking at Lighthouse Park, Nelson Canyon and Whytecliffe in the fall of this year.
Parking, which will operate entirely digitally via QR codes and a mobile app, will have an hourly rate of $3.75, with resident parking passes available for $20 per vehicle per year.
After six months council staff will report back and, if the program is deemed a success, an expansion to include Ambleside, John Lawson and Dundarave parks will be considered.
Coun. Sharon Thompson said the incentive to employ paid parking was due the continuous “tremendous draw” to the parks, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, while Mayor Mark Sager said the enforced paid parking would help garner funds from travellers and those passing through the area.
“The idea is that the primary source of revenue will be people who are not West Vancouver taxpayers, who come into the community and utilize our facilities,” he said. “While we welcome everyone, we need to get some revenue from people that use parks, and this is a way to do it."
Council members were collectively supportive of the concept, with some commenting how it was nice to finally see some movement underway after years of the program being up in the air. Coun. Christine Cassidy said she was pleased to see the program come to fruition as the issue had been a “bee in her bonnet” for a “long, long time.”
This isn’t the first time paid parking in West Vancouver parks has been discussed in the council chambers, with the topic having been the centre of back and forth debate for years.
Most recently in March 2022 council decided collectively to support staff in preparing a plan for a two-year seasonal pay parking program at the three parks, a turnaround following the actions of the previous council - who had considered and rejected a similar proposal in 2017.
In April 2022, a North Shore News poll found that many North Shore residents were opposed to paid parking in parks, with 48 percent of the 1,531 readers polled voting against, while 17 percent voted in favour. The rest were OK with it, providing local residents could be exempt.
“I know historically this has been controversial, but I do believe this is the time to move forward with this,” said Coun. Sharon Thompson. “We’ve seen on the North Shore in the Sea to Sky corridor and many other places - not just when COVID kicked off, it started before then - that access is growing and growing.”
She said as much as she would like to see West Vancouver’s “beautiful beaches and parks” shared with the public, she had concerns over the stress that puts on the parks, the management, District resources and staffing, with the implementation of paid parking being the solution.
“I think we all feel really confident this is a good place to start, and I look forward to more implementation into Ambleside and into our commercial areas,” she said.
The revenue garnered from the paid parking will be funnelled back into the parks via maintenance and the improvement of facilities.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.