“Breaks my old heart”: Spanish Banks free parking to end this summer

Vancouver’s last free beach parking spots will soon be gone after Monday night’s decision to approve the motion to introduce pay parking at Spanish Banks, and people have many thoughts.

The fees will be $1 per hour to park in one of the 744 spots in any of the four parking lots at the beach. This will apply not only to the beachside parking spaces, but also to some of the residential streets nearby.

According to the Vancouver Park Board report, this is to ensure that those who live near the beach don’t see drivers park on city streets to avoid paying the fees.

This will kick in starting in July, between 9 am and 10 pm, and they hope to net some $70,000 in revenue from it.

The Vancouver Park Board report reads that the time is important to allow early morning beach users free and accessible parking before 9 am.

Lots of people have shared their thoughts on the move, with many pointing to the suggestion to take transit instead of driving as a poor option for those who have dogs, mobility challenges, or aren’t near a bus route.

Many options on Google Maps show that the difference between driving and transit doubles the journey and includes a fair amount of walking, which many critics have pointed out.

“Actually, there is no bus to Spanish Banks anymore. That’s the problem. Fit healthy people can walk from 4th, but that leaves a lot of people out,” one person said.

Another agreed on the accessibility of the beach.

“Try going to Spanish Banks for a day at the beach without a car,” they said.

The 42 bus drops you off at the beach but doesn’t run daily and comes infrequently.

Others pointed out that this comes as the fate of the Park Board remains up in the air after a plan to remove the elected body was approved by City Council.

“So the Vancouver Park Board (they are still there?) voted to introduce paid parking at Spanish Banks’ beaches, because eh, someone has to pay for the costs associated with hosting FIFA World Cup games,” one person said on X about the move.

Many shared their frustrations with another cost added to families in the city at a time when many are struggling financially.

“The decision to install pay parking at Spanish Banks breaks my old heart. A free, family pleasure for generations. I don’t know this city anymore,” one social media user expressed.

Another said it was a “dumb money grab. There is TONS of parking across Spanish Banks, give the damn people of BC a break financially or we are just going to park on Blanca Street and avoid fees.”

There’s a petition with thousands of signatures against the parking decision.

Parking rates will still be lower than other spots, such as Kitsilano Beach, where EasyPark rates jump to $4.25/hour during peak season.

“For a family of four (two adults, one teen, one child), a visit to the Beach for approximately four hours would cost $4, while the comparable trip via transit would cost $8.40 based on current cash fairs for one zone,” the report read.

“$1/hr is not unreasonable unless you spend it all cleaning up after people drinking on the beaches,” one person said.

Another person wrote on Facebook that they supported the move.

“I support bringing in pay parking at Spanish Banks. User fees are generally a much more fair way to fund services that property taxes. This will help incentivize those who *can* take alternate transport to do so, freeing up parking spaces for those who need to drive,” they wrote.

“I’m all for cutting costs. But government needs to choose how to raise revenue. I think parking fees and other use fees are more fair than property taxes. Public gyms and pools are great, but I assume you wouldn’t support making them free for everyone to use and raising up property taxes to pay for that?” another said on social media.

However, unlike Kits, Spanish Banks parking fees are a pilot project set to run for 12 months. Then, staff will reevaluate.