Petition launched to nix Spanish Banks pay parking plan — again

A plan to charge for parking at Vancouver’s Spanish Banks beach has been met with public backlash, including a new petition to scrap the move that has garnered more than one thousand signatures.

On April 8, Vancouver Park Board staff presented a report about potentially charging for parking at 744 stalls.

Parking demand during the peak season “has a serious impact on the road network and surrounding neighbourhood,” according to the report.

“Considerations for implementing paid parking include the need to enhance the visitor experience, improve traffic safety and reduce neighbourhood congestion,” said a park board spokesperson.

Right now, Spanish Banks is the only beach in Vancouver with free parking. In a case of déjà vu, the latest plan mirrors a previous effort by the board to implement pay parking in 2018, but it backpedalled following public outcry.

City staff said in the presentation that 2023 parking data showed both street and parking lot areas were at 85 per cent capacity.

Vehicles are parked in a row in front of a sandy beach.
Park board staff say pay parking at Spanish Banks with help minimize the impact on the surrounding area. (Google Street View)

Free beach access ‘a rare treat’

Spanish Banks sits along the shore of English Bay in the city’s West Point Grey neighbourhood.

The online petition says Spanish Banks is difficult to access via public transit, adding that car is the easiest way to travel the beach, “especially for large families, the elderly, disabled or people with barbecues or other beach gear.”

The petition asks the board to reconsider its plan.

“This is a special place for people to come and go and enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of our city without having to put our hand in our pocket,” it said.

“It’s a rare treat.”

During the 2018 debate, then-Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon said the lack of accessibility drove the board’s decision to reverse its plan.

Linda Christensen, a Vancouver resident who signed the online petition, says the city’s cost of living is already too high.

“To remove the little bit that we can have access to is detrimental, and it will lower the quality of life here,” she said.

Park Board Commissioner Angela Haer says staff suggested charging parking fees at Spanish Banks to create revenue to upgrade amenities and facilities at the beach, many of which she says are outdated.

Haer says she won’t support the plan. She worries that people will begin parking on residential streets near the beach to avoid paying, and she says some things should be kept free.

“It allows us to access our own facilities, beaches, parks … it’s in our own backyard,” said Haer.

“Charging for everything all the time makes it unaffordable.”

Both street and lot pay parking could begin as soon as June 2024, according to the staff report.

A park board spokesperson says staff are now preparing an updated report, which will go before the board for a decision later this spring.


Posted in CBC