West End residents who need a parking permit may be asked to pay a lot more if Vancouver City Council gets its way.
The City is currently surveying the public on recommended increases to the cost of parking permits in the West End, looking to move the rate from $80 a year to $50 a month – or $600 a year.
That’s a 650 per cent increase.
Only new permit applicants would face the much steeper rates, while renewing permit holders would continue with the current fee.
According to city data, it takes residents five minutes and over one kilometre of extra driving to find parking. Visitors spend 10 minutes and three kilometres of driving to snag a spot.
Lon LaClaire, Director of Transportation for the City of Vancouver says opening up more street parking at higher cost to residents benefits the neighbourhood as a whole.
“In addition to frustration for residents and their visitors and service providers, this extra driving adds unnecessarily to congestion, GHG production and creates safety risks in the neighbourhood. This is a problem that affects everyone in the neighbourhood, whether they have a car or not.”
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The City claims the change would make it easier to find parking and reduce congestion in the area. They add that it would cause more people to park in their building lots rather than on the street, freeing up space for “those who need it.”
“Existing permit holders would pay the same rate as before, so there is no risk of pricing existing residents out of the neighbourhood,” the survey says. It adds that City data shows that many permit holders don’t renew their permits over time, which means most permits would be at the new rate within five years.
They also argue that on-street permit parking is currently significantly cheaper than off-street lot parking. Under current rates, residents pay $6 a month for on-street parking and roughly $50 a month for market-based off-street parking.
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Survey data from last fall found that 63 per cent of residents with a car and a parking permit, comprising 20 per cent of all residents, opposed the new fees. Meanwhile, those with no car or with a car and no permit supported the increases. Visitors also voted in favour.
When asked whether he thinks many in the West End’s senior population living on fixed incomes can afford the increases, LaClaire says the decision to grandfather today’s permit rate should address the issue.
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The West End is just one neighbourhood in Vancouver where parking permits are relatively inexpensive.
“Parking permits are undervalued in a number of Vancouver neighbourhoods and sometimes contribute to unnecessary ‘cruising for parking’ as they do in the West End.”
He says permits range from $38 to $76 per year in other neighbourhoods, like Kitsilano.
Increases in revenue from the plan would be reinvested into the West End to pay for community-identified needs.