Surrey city councillor proposes eliminating minimum parking standards near transit

Nov 20 2023, 7:41 pm

Surrey will be the latest jurisdiction in Metro Vancouver to formally consider abolishing minimum vehicle parking requirements.

A member motion by Surrey First City Councillor Linda Annis will be deliberated by City Council during tonight’s meeting, calling on eliminating such standards in new residential developments along rapid transit routes and for any new affordable housing projects by non-profit organizations.

This follows Vancouver City Council’s decision earlier this month to eliminate the standards for new building developments within the West End neighbourhood on the downtown Vancouver peninsula, and the Broadway Plan area, which will be served by six new subway stations starting in 2026 when the SkyTrain Millennium Line extension opens.

Furthermore, the provincial government recently introduced legislation requiring municipal governments to enable high-density, transit-oriented development within 800 metres of SkyTrain stations and 400 metres of bus exchanges. Within these transit-oriented development areas, the legislation stipulates there will be no minimum vehicle parking requirements for residential uses.

Municipal governments have until June 2024 to change their bylaws to reflect the new legislation.

Minimum vehicle parking requirements for accessible stalls for people with disabilities, as well as visitor spaces and loading needs, would be retained.

“It’s time to take a second look at these parking minimums, particularly along transit routes where changes in demand should dictate the number of parking spots,” said Annis in a statement. “The whole idea of a transit-centred neighbourhood is to reduce the need for cars and encourage walkability.”

When the 16-km-long SkyTrain Expo Line extension reaching Langley City Centre opens in 2028, Surrey will see a net gain of six SkyTrain stations within its jurisdiction. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2024.

Through the Fleetwood Plan and the Clayton Corridor Plan, the City of Surrey is already working on creating new area plans to densify the areas around its future stations.

According to Annis, a policy to drop minimum vehicle parking requirements could reduce construction costs significantly and help improve housing affordability, with an underground parking stall costing as much as $50,000 or more to build, and shorten construction timelines by reducing the depth of excavation required.

“At the same time, planning and excavation for an underground garage add to the time it takes to approve and build a project, something we all want to streamline and shorten. The fact is, when it comes to cars and transit, times are changing, and forcing minimum parking requirements on new development projects means unnecessary added costs for homeowners who are looking for more affordability,” she continued.

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