One of the major problems that drivers in Vancouver encounter is the lack of parking spots. Vancouver has a limited number of parking spaces compared to the number of vehicles on the road each day. It is important to be aware of the City’s rules and regulations when it comes to parking on city streets both to avoid a fine and also upset neighbours. There are different rules depending on whether there are signs on the street or if you are at a meter.
Parking Regulations and Bylaws
All of the City’s parking meters run from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day (including holidays). Many residents are unaware of the three-hour bylaw that states you cannot remain parked in front of a property you don’t own or live at for more than three hours. It is in effect between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
Another regulation to pay attention to is parking near a fire hydrant; there must be at least five meters between the hydrant and the car.
Drivers are also not allowed to idle a vehicle for more than three consecutive minutes per hour or while there is no one in the vehicle and it is unlocked. There are several others regulations about parking on the City website.
There are two major smartphone apps that help find and manage parking on Vancouver streets. The first app is Easy Park app, by a City-owned, not-for-profit parking company. Drivers can find lot locations, entrance locations and rates. You can also pay from your phone as well as extend your parking time when you are away from your vehicle. Find it on Google Play and App Store.
The second app is Pay by Phone. It can be linked to your credit card and uses your license plate number to register you car for parking. It can be used at meters around Vancouver and also some lots. The app will send you a text message when the time is nearly done. Users can extend the time from the app. Pay by Phone is available for Apple, Android and Blackberry phones.
With an average of 870,000 vehicles on Metro Vancouver roads daily and just 10,000-metered parking spots plus about 17,550 at Easy Park lots the city faces a challenge.
Add to that the expectation that there will be 170,000 new residents by 2045 the City needs to advance a plan to ease the congestion. Because there is a shortage of land in Vancouver it is easier to make the transit system more efficient and more attractive rather than try and increase the available parking spots. This is the problem the Mayors Council Plan hopes to help by promising to reduce the traffic problem by 20 per cent.
The plan largely focuses on improving the region’s public transportation system including an expansion to the Millennium Line along Broadway from Commercial Drive and UBC. It will also add five new b-lines to the roughly 210 bus routes it already has. The new routes have been defined as:
- Downtown to SFU via Hastings Street;
- Downtown to SE Marine Drive via Victoria Drive and Commercial Drive;
- Downtown to Lynn Valley Centre in N Vancouver by West Georgia Street;
- Joyce-Collingwood Station to UBC along 41st Ave;
- Southeast Vancouver to Richmond and Burnaby via Knight Street.
The plan also commits to increasing sea bus service by 50 per cent.
However, residents essentially voted against funding the plan by rejecting a tax that would have covered the cost of the project in a 2015 referendum. Elections BC website records a total of 61.68 per cent of voters against the tax while 38.32 per cent supported it. Reports state the tax would have been a 0.5 per cent sales tax and revenue was expected to cover the $7.5 billion of in projects. It would have helped pay for some of the 10-year plan, which included an east-west subway line, a light rail system for Surrey that would reach to Langley and 11 new rapid bus lines in the suburbs, as well as a third harbour ferry.
Matt Taylor, a Master’s of Engineering Student at UBC has outlined the transportation problem in Vancouver in a YouTube video. He estimates there will be about 1,100,000 new residents in Vancouver. Which will mean an addition of 730,000 vehicles "at current ownership rates."
Taylor said that with that amount of growth the city would need an addition 2,200,000 more parking spaces. Due to the lack of land in the city most of the spots would need to be built underground. At a cost of $40,000 per spot Taylor said that would be a total cost of $90,000,000.
While Vancouver’s transit system is robust, the City estimates about 50 per cent of trips are done by walking, cycling or using public transit.
Vancouver’s public transportation options include the Skytrain, which has the Expo Line running north-west to south-east and the Millennium Link that runs in a loop east to west. There are also over 210 bus routes running around the City and the Seabus, which connects downtown to North Vancouver from waterfront station to Londsale Quay.
TransLink, the body that is in charge of the city’s public transportation claims that 85 per cent of Metro Vancouver residents live less than 400 metres from a bus stop. They also run HandyDART, which is a door-to-door service for people with disabilities.
Although Vancouver has a reliable public transportation system many families still feel the need for at least one vehicle. Given that residents voted against implementing a tax to improve the system it is likely to assume that they will be relying more on their vehicles to get around. Yet, with the estimated population growth in the next 20 years the City will find itself unprepared for the increase in traffic flow and need for ample parking in public areas and streets.