By Kristen Holliday
There are valid reasons for pay parking to be implemented along Fraser Street, but concerns raised by small business owners about impacts on their sales should not be ignored.
In 2019, the City of Vancouver, with support of the South Hill Business Association, dissolved the South Fraser Street Collective Parking Project. For 60 years, this project ensured 260 free parking spots along Fraser Street, between 43rd and 49th avenues. According to a City of Vancouver report, free parking cost neighbourhood businesses over $300,000 in annual fees.
According to the business association, it was difficult for patrons to find places to park.
Implementing pay parking is a strategy to reduce the number of vehicles in the area, and to ensure steady turnover of cars that continue to park along the street.
In 2013, a report was published by IBI Group and Nelson Nygaard, two urban planning companies, for TransLink’s Regional Transportation Strategy. The report said free parking increases neighbourhood traffic congestion and is tied to increased vehicle ownership and increased vehicle use.
Vehicle use directly impacts the rate of climate change and environmental damage. In Vancouver, there are several viable alternatives for transportation. South Fraser is rated as a highly walkable area, and has high bike and transit scores, according to walkscore.com. When alternatives are available, it’s a healthy and forward-thinking decision to encourage other methods of commuting instead of driving a car.
The urban planning report also emphasized that space and maintenance for parking isn’t free. Why shouldn’t drivers contribute to the cost of the assets they use most often?
All this being said, rising property taxes and redevelopment have already negatively affected small businesses. In light of this, the city should be open to altering the rate or type of parking management system especially if business owners consistently report a loss of customers.
Ultimately, it’s important for all to be open to change. Car use is a privilege. Walking, biking, and taking the bus is a viable alternative that should be encouraged. It’s uncomfortable now, but in time, it may just be the new normal.