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Proposal for pay parking at Spanish Banks prompts community backlash


As predicted, a new proposal to charge for parking at Vancouver's Spanish Banks Beach has been met with swift backlash from the community.

The staff proposal – which would eliminate all 744 free parking spaces spread across four lots at Spanish Banks – was previewed at a meeting of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation last week, but has not been officially presented or voted on yet.

Staff said the actual proposal was coming "soon," for potential implementation as early as June 2024.

In the meantime, a petition urging the board to reject the idea has already gathered more than 1,200 signatures. 

"This is a special place for people to come and go and enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of our city without having to put our hand in our pocket," the petition reads. "It’s a rare treat. Let’s keep this area free for all."

During last week's preview, John Brodie, director of business services for the park board, noted that Spanish Banks is the only beach in Vancouver with free parking.

That leads to demand spiking "quite high during the peak season," Brodie said, which impacts traffic along Marine Drive. Staff suggested paid parking could decrease vehicle congestion, while also helping to fund upkeep along the beach.

The petition argues the parks budget "should be maintained on the same basis it has been for all the years Spanish Banks has not had parking fees."

This isn't the first time the park board has considered charging for parking at Spanish Banks – but the last attempt, in 2018, was abandoned in the face of public outcry

Commissioner Tom Digby said he expects a similar response this time.

"I mean, this is going to cause a riot, right?" he said at last week's meeting.

If the proposal goes forward, staff said they would co-ordinate with city hall to simultaneously impose metered street parking – which is controlled by council – along the beach as well.

Fees could be as low as $1 per hour to begin with, which staff said is the lowest amount allowed under the city's bylaws.

Commissioner Angela Haer raised concerns about drivers flooding into side streets in the area to avoid the fees – a problem she said already exists during the busy summer months – but staff suggested residents could be surveyed about the possibility of introducing sections of permit-only parking on their blocks.

Haer later suggested she will be voting against the proposal, regardless of the details.

"I live there, so I'm probably not going to support this," she said. Top Stories

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