West End drivers question 20% hike for legacy parking permits

Some residents in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood are questioning a 20% hike for legacy parking permits this year.

Ian Robison has lived in his West End apartment for 27 years and says this year’s price increase is just one more thing contributing to the cost of living crisis.

“It just feels like it’s piling on now. That sense of fragility. Anything that’s not incremental or in keeping with inflation seems untoward,” he said.

The City of Vancouver offers several types of parking permits. A market rate permit is available to anyone living in the neighbourhood, and a legacy rate permit is available to anyone who’s held a West End parking permit since 2017 or earlier.

A market rate permit costs just under $450 per year with taxes, but the legacy rate permit is much cheaper at $132 after tax.

City of Vancouver

West End parking permit fees before taxes for the last five years. (City of Vancouver)

Car owners must not let their legacy rate permit lapse for more than 90 days, otherwise, they’ll be forced to purchase a market rate permit.

The prices of all permit types increase slightly every year, but this year, several legacy permit holders were shocked to see a larger-than-usual jump, with some taking their concerns to social media.

The legacy permits cost $110 last year, and $100 the year prior.

The City of Vancouver has an entire West End Parking Strategy, where it notes residents spend an average of five minutes looking for parking, which translates to an extra kilometre of driving per trip.

A parking permit doesn’t guarantee someone a parking spot — it just enables them to leave their car in one of the blocks zoned for permit parking.

“With the exception of the West End market rate, residential parking permit fees throughout the city have been increased at a rate higher than inflation over the last few years as the permit fees are significantly less expensive than surrounding off-street parking, resulting in residents parking on-street rather than making use of parking within their building,” Alina Cheng, manager of parking management with the City of Vancouver, told Daily Hive.

The City’s pricing strategy is meant, in part, to encourage residents to take advantage of off-street parking opportunities — such as inside their building’s parkade. At the same time as the City hikes fees, some landlords are using drastic parking fee increases to skirt BC’s rent control rules.

So no matter where you want to park your car in Vancouver, it’s getting more expensive.

As for Robison, he acknowledges the $22 fee hike since last year isn’t going to break the bank. But the lack of transparency about why and how much fees are increasing frustrates him, especially when he makes a concerted effort in other areas of his life to live within his means.

“It all just stems from a sense of feeling increasingly fragile.”