VANCOUVER -- Most Metro Vancouver residents say the elimination of free parking at Granville Island won't stop them from visiting the popular shopping destination, according to a poll published Dec. 27.

In June, Granville Island got rid of free parking between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. In an online survey conducted by Research Co. this December, 33 per cent of residents said they would be less likely to visit Granville Island because of the change. But 42 per cent said the change won't affect their plans to visit, while 19 per cent said they plan to go to Granville Island more often.

Granville Island is a formerly industrial area that was transformed into an arts, culture, food and shopping hub starting in the 1970s, and is today administered by the federal Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

CMHC has been working on a new master plan for Granville Island, which calls for "increasing visitor numbers while decreasing the number of cars."

According to planning documents, that's because the island has limited roads, and it's not "physically possible" to increase visitor numbers along with growth in car traffic. CMHC wants to explore re-activating the False Creek streetcar line that ran briefly during the 2010 Olympics, and possibly installing an elevator on the Granville Bridge to bring pedestrians straight down from the bridge deck to Granville Island.

According to the Research Co. poll, 45 per cent of visitors are still arriving at Granville Island by car, while 53 per cent are travelling by a mix of public transit (35 per cent), walking (eight per cent), car share (seven per cent) and biking (three per cent).

Not surprisingly, the farther away visitors were coming from, the more likely they were to drive to Granville Island: 55 per cent of visitors coming from Surrey drove, while 38 per cent of people from Vancouver used a car to get to Granville Island.

Granville Island's own planning data shows that visitors have been moving away from driving to Granville Island: between 2005 and 2016, driving to get to Granville Island dropped from 45 per cent to 38 per cent, while trips by ferry, transit and biking all rose.

Research Co.'s poll is based on an online survey conducted Dec. 9 to Dec. 12, 2019, among 700 adults who live in Metro Vancouver. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.