VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver has launched a survey around proposed changes to require parking permits in all residential neighbourhoods.

The draft changes, which are being explored as part of the city’s Climate Emergency Action Plan, would first focus on neighbourhoods without a residential parking permit program, with the goal of eventually merging the programs together.

According to the city, the initial annual cost of an on-street parking permit for older or lower-priced vehicles would be roughly $45.45 a year.

“We know there’s a lot of people struggling right now, even more so due to the pandemic,” said Vancouver’s Director of Transportation Paul Storer. “We don’t want this to be a big impact on anyone’s affordability.”

However, the proposed plan calls for an additional carbon surcharge for newer, higher-priced vehicles that burn gas and diesel.

Storer said the goal is for the surcharge to act as an incentive to purchase zero-emission vehicles, but not be overly onerous.

When pressed by CTV News for an approximate dollar amount, Storer said: “We really haven’t figured that out.”

Also up in the air: whether it will be a one-size-fits-all solution, or different approaches in different neighbourhoods, as well as how non-residents will be accommodated.

Kris Sims, the B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, expressed skepticism over the permit program’s potential price tag in a city that has had property taxes hiked five per cent during the pandemic.

“What happens if it actually continues to go up?” Sims asked about the permit fees and attached carbon surcharge.

“What happens if people can’t actually afford it, what do they do then?” Sims asked.

Sims also worried that programs that sometimes start with the best intentions can quickly turn into “cash cows.”

The city says funds raised from the permits would go directly to goals supported by the Climate Plan, including wider sidewalks, public spaces, and transit improvements.  

If the changes, with public feedback, are adopted by City Council in July, new policies could come into effect before the end of 2021.

The survey is open until Feb. 28.