Should the City of Vancouver implement permit parking on residential streets city-wide?

That’s the question residents are being asked as the city launches a review of its residential parking program.

Lon LaClaire, general manager of the city’s engineers services, said the proposal attempts to tackle two goals: affordability and climate action.

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On-street permit parking would allow the city to phase out parking requirements in new developments, making them more affordable, he said.

The climate aspect would come from de-incentivizing car ownership and using permits to encourage people to buy zero-emission vehicles.

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LaClaire said that at this point, the process is about hearing what residents think of the idea.

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“What if a permit looked like this? Is it city-wide? Do we adjust it by neighbourhood?” he said.

“The consultation process is really going to identify what’s the best way to kind of apply it.”

Annual residents’ permits could start in the $30-$45 range.

LaClaire said new technology like the city’s PayByPhone app could also allow for short-term permits, such as visitors who need to park in a permit area.

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LaClaire also insisted the idea was not a cash grab, arguing that revenue would go, in large part, to administering and enforcing the program.

But Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said she had concerns about how the plan could hit residents’ pocketbooks, particularly amid a five-per cent property tax increase and the uncertainty around pandemic recovery.

Kirby-Yung said early estimates suggested the permits could raise as much as $15 million, money that could go into the city’s green programs but would not fund transit.

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“It could impact those disproportionately who can’t afford it. So thinking of people that live in secondary suites or do not have access to parking,” she said.

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“I’m hearing from people who don’t think the city has the social licence right now to go ahead and consider implementing another fee in the short term because of the significant financial pressures from COVID-19.”

OneCity Vancouver Coun. Christine Boyle called the proposal a potentially powerful tool to achieve the goals set out in the city’s climate emergency declaration.

About 40 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, she said. A permit parking system could help cut that number down while generating revenue for alternative active transportation measures such as bike lanes.

One idea Boyle floated was a pollution surcharge on permits for high-end gas powered cars.

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“We’re really trying to focus that pollution surcharge where people can afford to pay it.”

“Currently public space, curbside parking is free and unregulated, we want to make sure we make the best use of it and parking permits are really a market measure to help regulate that use and help make sure locals can find parking closer to their home, in fact.”

Boyle acknowledged there could be costs to residents, but said the long-term costs of climate change could be far higher.

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Residents who want to weigh in on the proposal have until Feb. 28 to fill out a survey on the city’s website.

That feedback will be reviewed, and used to focus a second round of consultation this spring.

A final proposal is anticipated to arrive at city council by the summer.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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