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West Van may charge for parking at three popular parks

The cost of maintaining parks is going up as more people flock to outdoor spaces
A family unloads their car at West Vancouver's Whytecliff Park in January, 2017.

West Vancouver council may soon be charging for parking and its most in-demand parks.

Council voted unanimously Monday (March 28) to direct staff to prepare a plan for a two-year seasonal pay parking program at Lighthouse Park, Whytecliff Park and Nelson Canyon Park/the Whyte Lake Trail.

The previous council considered and rejected a similar proposal in 2017. But, things have changed since then. Visits to West Vancouver parks have gone way up, and so has the wear and tear and cost of maintaining them. The District of North Vancouver also now charges people to park at Lynn Canyon Park.

According to staff, any money raised through paid parking would be funnelled back into parks maintenance.

Council members appeared generally supportive of the concept, although Coun. Sharon Thompson asked staff to consider the unintended consequences for nearby streets.

“I think this is a timely thing to look into and something that could work and really help create a funding model to help us manage our parks, but I am really nervous about the neighbourhoods around these parks,” she said, suggesting resident-only parking may be required.

Coun. Craig Cameron, who was opposed to pay parking in 2017, said he’d like to see the change go ahead “as soon as possible” but he too warned there will be blowback.

“No plan that staff are going to come up with is going to be perfect. There are always going to be adjustments that have to be made,” he said. “We are now probably pretty soon going to be in the minority in municipalities that don't have paid parking in our parks. … We might as well keep up with what the region is doing.”

Staff say they’ll come back to council with a proposal to vote on as soon as possible, but they also said it’s unlikely the program will be in place for the summer of 2022.