The Ladner Business Association is asking the municipality to begin enforcing a new parking time limit in Ladner Village.
President Jackey Zellweger recently submitted a letter to Delta council noting that members at a recent meeting voted in favour of having a three-hour limit posted throughout the downtown core, and that those limits be enforced. The association would like those with veteran licence plates to be exempt.
The issue of limited street parking spaces in the village has been debated for a long time. It's been a source of frustration for local merchants, many complaining that store and office employees are the biggest reason customers often can't find a spot.
The problem was exacerbated recently when the management of Ladner Harbour Centre served notice that employees of local businesses that park in the shopping centre lot would be towed.
The association, which has already approached the municipality about erecting signs to indicate the location of alternate parking spaces, discussed a variety of ideas before agreeing on a three-hour limit.
Zellweger told the Optimist local employees need to be aware they must park their vehicles elsewhere, including Memorial Park that's only a short walk away.
"When they park in front of their retail store and they (owners) see that car parked out there at nine and then they look out there at four and same car is still there, that's the problem. People who want to shop have commented that they've driven around and couldn't find a parking spot, so they don't bother," she said.
Some streets in Ladner Village have two-hour parking signs while others have one-hour limits, although neither is enforced.
Zellweger said the Ladner Business Association has had some productive discussions with Delta staff about the issue.
"We've (LBA) decided it should be three hours straight across the board, not just two. It gives someone a chance to go to a couple of shops and grab a bite or coffee, or if they have their hair done or services that take longer," she said.
Zellweger noted tenants in residential units above some of the businesses in the area also add to the problem.
Coun. Robert Campbell said it's a complex problem, but Memorial Park can be made a more attractive alternative with additional lighting, while Lions Park could be expanded by a few spaces without impacting the park.
As far as having a three-hour limit posted throughout the village, Campbell said the two free municipal lots in the village, which currently only limit overnight parking, would also require signs limiting parking to three hours in order to prevent those lots from filling up with employee vehicles.
"I haven't seen anything in draft, but what's been discussed is have a letter go through every store and door in the village telling them that this is coming, especially to the business owners, urging them to find other ways to deal with their employee parking," Campbell said.
"Whatever we decide to go with, the enforcement has to be consistent. The time, whether it's two hours or three hours, has to be the same for the whole village.
There's got to be appropriate signage and there's got to be good signage directing people to the parking lots and alternate parking off-street," he said.
Campbell said counts have determined there is adequate customer parking on the street if employees parked elsewhere.
He added he's opposed to creating new parking stalls in the village core because that would ruin the character of the area.
The parking debate has intensified over the last couple of years as the Corporation of Delta has looked at ways to revitalize the Ladner waterfront and downtown core with new development.
According to a consultant, a clear parking strategy is needed for the area because current capacity needs to be balanced with additional pressures that may come from redevelopment, particularly "destination" uses.
During the Downtown Ladner Waterfront Redevelopment Advisory Committee's many discussions on the parking issue, suggestions included looking at "low cost" parking options, including 30-minute and three-hour parking limits, timed parking stalls or meters.
A Delta parking review a decade ago found Ladner businesses were not in favour of pay parking as a management tool.