Spanish Banks changing to paid parking this summer

Pay parking is coming to Spanish Banks lots after the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation approved the motion Monday evening.

Four Park Board commissioners voted in favour, and one commissioner against.

Commissioner Jas Virdi did not support the motion.

“This is one of the few places left in the city that doesn’t charge for parking and it’s a place for people who are struggling and can’t afford places to go to,” he said.

“I think it’s not fair, especially because the busses don’t run there as frequently as they should. So I will not be supporting this.”

Up until now, it’s been the only beach in the city without paid parking. The Park Board report says the free lots disrupt the neighbourhood, especially in the summertime.

The proposal has also received lots of pushback, with a petition signed by almost 4,000 people and organized by a group that calls itself “Vancouver Beach Lovers 2.”

The petition says other beaches like Kitsilano and Jericho have limited parking and easier public transport and bike access, which make paid parking fair.

“Spanish Banks is long and has a great deal of parking,” the petition says.

The commissioners that voted in favour of paid parking at Spanish Banks say that the motion is about “good governance.”

Commissioner Tom Digby says every single park has paid parking throughout the city, and Spanish Banks has been an exception for a long time.

“I think it’s proper for us to step forward, $16 a day is not too much to ask,” he said.

Furthermore, Commissioner Brennan Bastyovanszky says the Park Board is “dangerously underfunded” by about $20 million a year, and the city council denied several funding requests, which means this motion is one way of gaining that revenue.

“Keeping the fees modest, will help us this first year,” he said.

Commissioner Scott Jensen agreed with Commissioner Bastyovanszky.

“We all share this responsibility to ensure that we fund our park board appropriately, to ensure that we have the funds available for very important programs,” he said.

Finally, Commissioner and Chair Laura Christensen also voted yes, saying not paying for parking is “outdated.”

“The assumption of free parking across the city is a little bit outdated and I think we’re gonna be moving away from that,” she said.

The Spanish Banks Park Beach will see a new paid parking fee at parking lots for a 12-month pilot period beginning in July this year, where peak season pricing between May to September will be $1/hour with reduced parking charged in the off-season.

-With files from Charlie Carey.

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