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Big parking changes coming in the City of North Vancouver

Pay parking and a total revamp of resident-only parking rules are likely coming this fall

Free parking? Do not pass go.

Big changes are coming to the way City of North Vancouver divvies up limited curb space for parking.

Council voted unanimously Monday to move forward on a new parking plan that could lead to pay parking in the busiest areas of the city. The new plan includes a total revamp of the resident-only parking rules and reserves more street parking spaces for commercial deliveries and pick-ups and for people with permits under the province’s program for people with disabilities.

Most of the city’s existing parking policies were written in the 1990s and much has changed since then, city staff acknowledged in their detailed report.

With available street parking at or near 100 per cent occupancy in the highest demand areas of Lower Lonsdale and Central Lonsdale, city staff are recommending the expansion of pay parking, which should encourage turnover and free up spaces. Those areas tend to have off-street parking in private lots and underground parkades that go unused, staff noted. The goal is to ensure that every block has at least one free on-street space at any given time.

Also likely to change is the city’s resident-only and resident-exempt time-limited parking system, which is largely only available to residents in single-family homes. With new provincial housing rules coming into place that explicitly do not require more off-street parking, the city will have to adapt and make the system more equitable, staff noted. And unlike the current $25 annual fee for a permit, the price should reflect the demand in specific areas, the report said.

With the popularity of ride hailing and meal delivery apps and car shares, more of the limited curb spots should be freed up for them with short-term spaces, the proposal before council suggests.

None of the details concerning who can park where and how much it will cost have been decided yet. City staff say they will do public engagement through to this fall before bringing a curb access and parking plan back to council for a vote before the end of the year. Any rule changes would be phased in gradually.

Coun. Don Bell urged staff to make that public consultation robust and show a willingness to seriously consider what they hear.

“I think it’s important … that this public engagement not simply be viewed as a sales pitch for what you’re proposing. That, in fact, it be a listening opportunity as well,” he said, suggesting every residence in the city should be informed of the process via a direct mail out. “I think it’s important that it go to everybody because this is going to affect everybody in the community.”

Coun. Shervin Shahriari noted that any changes residents face will be felt equally by commuters who the city relies on to work at the hospital and in local businesses.

“We have talked about the workforce housing strategy. I think we need a workforce parking strategy until we get a workforce housing strategy,” he suggested sardonically.

Mayor Linda Buchanan addressed the angst that always comes with discussions about where people may store their vehicles when they’re not using them. But she said everyone needs to be aware of the broader goals at stake.

“We are focused on people. We’re focused on the economy and we’re focused on the environment. And fundamentally I believe these policy shifts are going to get us to where we need to clearly focus,” she said. “It’s going to be very hard for people and it might have to be slow, but we have to move in this direction if we’re truly going to meet the very, very complex challenges, not just that impact our city but impact every city and every municipality beyond us. These are global issues that everyone is grappling with and you have to start somewhere. You cannot kick this can down the road any longer.”

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