People living in the West End may soon have to shell out a lot more money for street parking, if proposed changes are approved.

The City of Vancouver is looking for ways to conquer the downtown neighbourhood's parking shortage, including an increase in fees.

Currently many residents of the area who own cars are opting to park on the street, rather than in the lots owned by apartment and condo complexes, because the fees are much lower. Street parking permits cost drivers approximately $6 per month, while many pay $100 or more per month to park underground.

The chances of visitors to the area finding a spot are slim, and they often spend an extra 10 minutes driving around just trying to find a place to stop, according to the city. Officials say it takes residents about five minutes to find a spot.

So the city is looking at options to encourage residents to move their vehicles indoors, freeing up space on the street. One of those options is increasing the street permit fees to approximately $50 per month (or $600 per year) a nearly 700 per cent increase from the current annual rate of $76.37.

The increase would not apply to people who have on-street permits already, directed only at those purchasing new permits.

"We hope (the increase) will have people choosing to rent the spot in their building more often," Vancouver Director of Transportation Lon LaClaire told CTV News.

But the solution is being met with opposition both on the streets and inside city hall.

"I think that they're just making it more unaffordable," Coun. Melissa De Genova said Wednesday.

"I hear from citizens every day that their wages aren't going up, their incomes aren't going up, but their fees in the City of Vancouver certainly are."

She said she'll be discussing the proposal with residents of the West End including seniors and people with disabilities who are living on fixed incomes.

"This isn't an increase based on inflation. This is a huge increase," she said.

De Genova compared the increase to the fines issued to unlicensed marijuana dispensaries operating in the same neighbourhood despite instructions from the city to shut down.

"We're seeing marijuana dispensaries that are charged $250 in fines, not even nearly as much as we're upping the permit," she said.

The city has also proposed other changes, including:

  • Update zoning and bylaws
  • Install parking meters in spots that are currently free for two hours
  • Improve parking enforcement in the area
  • Let visitors park in residential spaces when it's less busy
  • Convert some residential parking to visitor parking
  • Improve alternatives to driving with bike share program, car sharing options
  • Give revenue from increased parking fees back to affected communities for amenties

The changes have not been finalized yet, and the proposals will go to a full city council vote in the fall before taking effect. If approved by council, they would likely be implemented sometime next year.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Scott Hurst