Editor’s note: the following letter was first sent to Vancouver Park Board commissioners on February 19. It’s in response to the park board’s decision to revise its proposed parking fee schedule for Spanish Banks. The park board revised its plan after receiving a petition with 11,000 signatures. The petition asks the park board to continue to offer free parking. Details of the park board’s revised fee schedule are here.
Good day, Park Board Commissioners.
I thank you for responding to the public outcry over parking fees at Spanish Banks by making an amendment to the plan. It’s heartening to know that our elected officials listen and respond when 11,000 people sign a petition and I appreciate that.
I trust you have read some of the comments which express frustration about yet another cost for something which has always been free. And not an insignificant cost. A visit of say, just two hours and ten minutes will cost a visitor $10.50. This amounts to a user fee because, for most, the only way to visit is by car. I know you are working to provide better transit options, but really, that’s not likely to be on the cards any time soon, if ever.
That’s why, while I fully appreciate the gesture, I need to ask that you revisit this matter further and reconsider the installation of parking meters in any form. The same reasons still apply and I am attaching some of the comments in case you have not seen them. [Comments are below.] One comment, today in response to the amended plans, was as follows:
"I don't believe that the limited months and times will last once Easy Park moves in. We are already paying for our beaches and parks with our taxes and $87 is too much money for low income families who are already challenged with the rents in Vancouver. No parking fees on this beach!"
I understand parking fees in Stanley Park were introduced piecemeal and then extended. People feel that any introduction of parking will lead to further, extended charges. In any case, it’s not just about that fear, but what we have now: A place for all to visit without cost, all year round. The one beach in Vancouver where we can do that. Encouraging healthy activity is a positive thing, as I am sure you appreciate. Putting a significant fee on to this activity will persuade many to use it less. That’s not what we want!
I do fully appreciate that the Park Board needs to find ways to raise money, but I implore you to look elsewhere or to lobby the City for additional funds you need. The City certainly finds money for all manner of projects, so I hope they can be persuaded to see that the Park Board’s budget remaining as good as frozen for the past ten years is not ideal.
The 11,000 who have signed this petition believe that Spanish Banks should remain a place to visit without a fee and I hope you will come to agree. For many, this is a significant issue for both practical and principled reasons about access to city amenities. We pay for so many of them, this one has been free forever and 11,000 and counting want to keep it that way.
I hope you might let me know your thoughts so that I can share them with the petition supporters.