The era of being able to find a free parking space in Granville Island could soon be coming to an end if a new parking management plan is implemented.
Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), the federal crown corporation that owns and manages the popular Vancouver tourist and arts destination, has outlined a proposal in its new Granville Island Transportation Strategy to convert the remaining 600 free parking stalls on the island into meter parking, effectively making all parking on the island pay parking.
Granville Island has over 1,200 parking stalls, with three-hour free or pay parking accounting for about 75% of all parking stalls. The remaining stalls are for reserved parking, one-hour free parking, handicap parking, and other uses.
Most of the free stalls are currently located near the Public Market while pay parking stalls are largely on the east side of the Island.
The implementation of pay parking will help address some of the Island’s ongoing issues, according to CMHC.
“In order to address the issue of peak period traffic congestion at the Island, a more strategic approach to parking is required,” reads a report.
“Typically, as in other parts of the city and elsewhere, where there is higher demand for parking than supply, there is a cost to park. This helps ensure that the available parking space is better shared among the many people who wish to use it.”
CMHC also suggests that parking rates on the Island are too low, as parking is at or near full capacity at peak times. Congestion is also created when drivers circle the Island looking for a free parking spot.
“In order to get to these spaces, the driver passes almost all of the other parking space options on the Island,” the report continues. “During peak times when the free spaces are at capacity, the hope of finding one of the coveted free spots likely entices many drivers to circle the Island at least once before resorting to pay parking.”
Conversely, during the less busy seasons when there is ample parking available, rates for pay parking could be lowered.
The crown corporation says metering all parking stalls on the Island will enable CMHC to collect accurate data on parking usage. One all parking stalls are metered, rates will be set at a level that achieve an 85% usage rate of stall capacity.
For instance, the Island’s transportation mode share on an average Saturday in August, during the peak season, is as follows:
Tour bus operation policies on the Island are already being implemented, with buses required to apply for a year-long permit starting May 15 to access the Island. Depending on the number of seats, a non-transferable permit will cost each bus between $300 and $500, while a single transferable permit shared by a fleet is between $900 and $1,500. Any tour bus company without a permit will be banned from the Island.
Over the long-term, a new streetcar line serving Granville Island as part of the City of Vancouver’s envisioned downtown and Arbutus Greenway streetcar system could greatly increase the number of trips made to the destination by public transit.