Following the success of a pilot program, pay parking will now be employed at Lynn Canyon Park, with implementation at Deep Cove Park, Panorama Park and Cates Park/Whey-ah-Wichen to follow.
At a meeting on Jan. 23, councillors commended the pilot, which ran at Lynn Canyon Park from May 2021 to October 2021 and from March 2022 to October 2022. All voted in favour that the program will be fully established in March this year, with plans for the remaining parks penned for sometime in 2024.
In order to manage car parking demand at the Peters Road parking lot and the surrounding neighbourhood streets, the pilot saw a $3 an hour parking fee put in place, alongside an extension of the maximum parking duration from three to four hours.
Parks planner Nicole Foth said paid parking was an incentive to encourage more turnover in parking spaces, and an encouragement to consider other transit options like walking, biking or ride-sharing.
Foth said a survey carried out in conjunction with the pilot found that the majority of respondents who paid for parking – 75 per cent – said the new fee didn’t impact their visit.
District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little, while supportive of the program as a whole, said he was particularly in favour of the proposed implementation of paid parking at Cates Park, as it would mean the spillover of cars parked in the neighbourhood would be mitigated.
He said he had concerns for Deep Cove and Panorama, as the spillover would be going into an “already heavily burdened” neighbourhood that already has tight restrictions, and it will thus create a situation where people just “drive around and around looking for parking,” yet he was nonetheless “fully supportive” of the initiative.
The prospect of an annual resident pass for Lynn Canyon, a $10 permit that will exempt district residents from paying the hourly parking rates, divided the council. It had been tested during the pilot but was put to little use – 86 per cent of district residents surveyed said they were not aware the pass existed or that they were eligible.
With the program given the green light, Coun. Lisa Muri said she hopes to see the permit better advertised in the future, while others deliberated over the cost of the pass.
Coun. Jim Hanson – who was in favour of the plan, noting how the $3 hourly fee was “reasonable” and paid parking was an “appropriate demand management tool” – argued that it should be free.
“I think we could make the gesture to our residents, those that are going to be paying ever increasing taxes here in the district, that they could get their parking pass for free so long as they come down to the district and get it,” he said.
It was a sentiment echoed by Coun. Betty Forbes, who added that district taxpayers “pay enough” and that they don’t need to be “nickelled and dimed on everything.”
Should the pass not be able to be made free, she proposed that it should at least stay the same price – with no risk of future inflation. Meanwhile, Coun. Jordan Back said there should be no exemption for locals.
“I think that we’re trying to encourage people to look at different ways of getting to the park rather than in a vehicle, and rewarding people that potentially live closest to the park with free parking, I think that goes against that,” he said.
He added that efforts should be funnelled elsewhere, such as the inclusion of more bike storage and Lime bike parking – both of which would be a “welcome improvement” to Lynn Canyon Park.
A large part of the discussion centred around the importance of getting park visitors out of their cars and utilizing other means of transport. Back added that more should be done to create safe biking routes around Deep Cove Park and Cates Park, while Coun. Catherine Pope proposed the idea of implementing a shuttle journey from the SeaBus station to Lynn Canyon.
“Perhaps even revenue generated from parking could subsidize that in some way, or we could at least look at investigating it and producing a report into the viability of that,” she said.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.