Those big regional entities are doing their best to turn Delta into just another suburb one parking meter at a time.
Yes, we're part of the largest metropolitan area west of Toronto, but we retain, particularly in South Delta, that small town feel. And with that comes some sensibilities that don't necessarily jibe with the rest of the Lower Mainland.
The Fraser Health Authority found that out a couple of years ago when it tried to introduce pay parking at Delta Hospital. Drivers expect to plug a meter when they visit a hospital pretty much anywhere in an increasingly congested Greater Vancouver, and health authorities expect to extract cash from those drivers, so there's a mutual understanding. It's not surprising Fraser Health thought that arrangement should extend to Delta.
That's not how it works here, however. Deltans don't pay to park at their hospital, or anywhere else for that matter, so the FHA ran headlong into civic legislation that prevented it from happening.
Now TransLink has come calling, looking to make those that use the park-and-ride lots in these parts hand over cash on a daily basis for the privilege. It, too, is done elsewhere in the region, but not so in the land of the free (parking, that is).
It looks like local politicians will be able to prevent this one as well, although it appears the lease Delta has with TransLink for the municipal-owned Ladner Exchange will have to be revised to reflect the inability of the transportation authority to charge for parking there. So while money won't come out of transit users' pockets, Delta could end up losing all or most of the $51,000 it receives annually.
I wonder how much longer Delta will be able to hold off these agencies that continue to look under every rock imaginable to generate a buck. They're only doing so in order to fund the services we require, so I suspect the justification for parking fees will do nothing but intensify in the years to come.
I imagine we'll be told the money raised through parking fees could put another bus on the road or add another position at the hospital. They'd like to improve services, they just need a way to pay for them.
Acquiescing to those demands would create a slippery slope, as well as have significant ramifications on parking elsewhere in Ladner's civic precinct, but something tells me we could soon get to that point.
It's increasingly difficult to remain a small town when big city pressures come knocking on your door.
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