Pay parking on city streets in the town centre could soon be a fact of life for White Rock residents and visitors.
That’s one of the implications of a report submitted to White Rock council at Monday’s regular meeting (Sept. 11) by planning and development services director Anne Berry.
Creating pay parking in the town centre was one of 18 recommendations presented to council, in a summary of the White Rock City-Wide Parking Strategy commissioned by the previous council and originally intended to be reviewed by the city’s Governance and Legislation Committee.
Berry said that, due to competing priorities, this was not completed during the 2018-22 council term, and so it has been brought back to council now.
Council endorsed returning the report to staff for further prioritization of recommendations, which are aimed at increasing efficiency and consistency of parking policies, increasing turnover of available parking spaces and meeting city strategic priorities, including walkable streets, climate change mitigation and reducing reliance on cars.
Councillors and chief administrative officer Guillermo Ferrero emphasized that all recommendations – including pay parking in the town centre – would be under further review by staff and council and that no final decisions were being made at the meeting.
Coun. Michele Partridge said she was in favour of town centre pay parking.
“I look forward to this one,” she said.
“I just wanted to put it out there – the pay parking model in the Miramar building just off Thrift Street, under Three Dogs (Brewing), currently they have a payment program where the first 45 minutes are free and then the parking rate kicks in, which I think is a great model for uptown.
“Many people just run into stores or drop-off or pick up, so that’s something I thought about, maybe, to consider.”
Coun. Christopher Trevelyan took an opposing view.
“(I’m opposed) not in principle, but with the reality that there is no such service right across 16th Avenue in South Surrey,” he said.
“My concern is adding a barrier to business in White Rock…if they had pay parking on the other side of 16th Avenue I’d be interested in this, because there’s obviously many benefits of it (such as) turnover etc.,” he noted.
“But right now, it would be a real disadvantage with the slightly higher tax rate.”
Coun. Bill Lawrence agreed that the pay parking recommendation would warrant further closer examination.
“We are going to be dealing with the reality, across the street – at least in Semiahmoo Mall – of having free parking. One of the issues that we have to deal with is pricing ourselves out of the league, as they say.”
Among other recommendations of the report are reviewing how resident (permit only) parking is established, looking at parameters for residential permits based on type of residence and cost, and a review of current policy, in registering residential permits by households, to prevent abuses of the system. Recommendations also include developing a program for seasonal parking rates for on-street parking, creating pay parking zones with time limits, introducing variable parking rates for off-street lots, expanding the license plate-based payment system, extending establishing paid public electric vehicle charging stations, and expanding electric vehicle parking infrastructure.
Council balked at considering only one recommendation, however – ending the city parking decal program, which was removed from the list prior to the final vote.
Mayor Megan Knight argued for continuing the decal program.
“I think that’s one thing that the people of White Rock will really want, especially with the rates that we have down on the beach – we’ve raised them and that type of thing – I think people appreciate paying $50 to have that parking,” Knight said.
“I like the decal program and I think a lot of citizens do as well,” Partridge commented.
”We’ve tried to, briefly, summarize the different recommendations of the strategy,” Berry said, inviting council input on the recommendations, either for items council would like to see removed, or others it would like see added.
“Give us some feedback and we could then incorporate that into how we report back to council,” she said.