Vancouver City Council approves planning for mandatory parking permits for all residential streets

Nov 18 2020, 10:59 am

Vancouver City Council has decided to set forth on a strategy to implement mandatory parking permits on all residential streets across the city, with vehicle owners charged based on the carbon intensity and age of the vehicle.

This was one of the strategies outlined by city staff’s Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP), which had over 30 strategies individually voted on by city council on Tuesday evening.

For the strategy of expanding the mandatory parking permits citywide, city council voted 6-3 in favour, with NPA councillors Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, and Colleen Hardwick opposed, and Green Party councillor Michael Wiebe declaring conflict of interest.

“Vancouver is known for being unaffordable and tangled in red tape, we need to cut it — not add more,” De Genova told Daily Hive Urbanized.

“Citywide residential parking permits add another layer of bureaucracy and create barriers, such as eliminating parking for renters, home care workers and some child care workers. During a pandemic people expect us to help them when they are down, not hit them with news of more restrictions and fees.”

With city council’s approval, there is now direction for city staff to conduct further planning and report back in 2021 with options for implementation.

The first phase is to launch the changes as early as 2021 as a “low-cost permit parking system” for all neighbourhoods, with the rollout to consider permit cost based on factors such as vehicle age, vehicle cost/and or emissions, supply and demand of spaces, household income, and whether it is a first or second permit for the household. Other considerations include times that permits will be required and visitor parking needs.

The second phase will be a transition to a market-based system between 2023 and 2025, where the price of a permit fluctuates based on curbside parking supply, such as parking spaces removed to provide more green space and the change in demand from a newly constructed residential building.

“The pricing in this system should be set in a performance-based manner that optimizes parking availability for residents,” reads a city staff report.

“As a market-based system may require the use of higher priced permits to affect behavioural change, the City will need to consider how to implement methods, such as discounts, that take into account income and disability concerns.”

Under the second phase, additional surcharges will be considered based on vehicle emissions, the effectiveness in supporting a reduction in overall private vehicle use and ownership, and encouraging residents to purchase electric-battery vehicles.

In 2019, parking permits brought in $1.2 million in revenue for the municipal government. The expansion to a citywide parking permit requirement is forecast to increase this revenue source by $1 million to $2 million annually initially, and potentially upwards of $15 million annually after three years.

vancouver parking permit map

Residential parking permit zone locations as of 2020, with BLUE as residential permit parking zone and GREEN as resident-only parking zone. Future changes to this policy will mean all residential areas across the city will be covered in BLUE/GREEN policies mandating some form of regulation. (City of Vancouver)

According to the city, currently only about 10% of residential streets have some form of residential permit parking regulations, and the strategy builds on the implemented regulations in downtown’s West End several years earlier.

Existing annual parking permit fees range between $41.32 for residential streets outside the Metro Core and $393.27 for the market rate in the West End. The non-market rate in the West End for low-income households is $82.67.

The rate is currently higher at $61.02 for the residential streets near and within the Vancouver General Hospital campus.

“To support an overall reduction in private vehicle use, the policy should not prioritize motor vehicles (even zero-emission vehicles) over walking, cycling, transit and shared mobility,” continues the report.

“It should allow for a reduction in overall space dedicated to private vehicle storage and make it easier for people to choose to drive less and live a car-light or car-free lifestyle. Residential permit programs complement strategies relating to zero-parking buildings and shared district parking as they allow people to save money on housing by not paying for parking that they do not need.”

City council’s approved CEAP strategies include eliminating parking supply requirements for new residential buildings, and implementing mobility pricing for vehicles entering the Metro Core defined as the downtown Vancouver peninsula and the Central Broadway corridor.

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