Metro Vancouver is offering a free shuttle bus service to Centennial Beach starting this Saturday.
Beach and Boundary Bay Regional Park users can catch the shuttle on Saturday, July 11 starting at 11 a.m. at the South Delta Rec Centre or the drop-off zone in the park.
The shuttle runs hourly with the last one leaving the park at 6:30 p.m. The shuttle will run every Saturday, Sunday and Monday (stat holiday, Aug. 3) throughout the summer.
Masks are required by all shuttle users.
Delta Coun. Dylan Kruger said Mayor George Harvie through Metro’s Parks and Rec Committee has been discussing solutions to the on-going traffic concerns at Centennial Beach for a number of weeks.
“Part of those discussions here at the local level, as you know, was the permit parking program, but we have also been working with our partners at Metro Vancouver to see how they can improve their own parking processes, so part of that has been better utilization of signage and Metro Vancouver staff re-directing people, but also encouraging people to take other forms of transit to get to Centennial Beach and part of that is encouraging people to park at the rec centre and take this free shuttle,” said Kruger. “We always have to remind people that this is not Delta’s asset, the beach parking and overflow issues all stem from the fact that this is operated by Metro and we have always been encouraging them to improve their processes.
“Especially in this new COVID-19 world, vacations have been cancelled so we are expecting a huge uptick in all of our regional parks and this, of course I’m a bit biased, but the nicest beach in the Lower Mainland, so we are expecting a lot more people, and we want to share our assets, but this incentivizes people to look at taking this transit option rather than taking their car all the way down there.”
As for the permit parking pilot program, which is in effect weekends only from now until September, Kruger said the feedback has been positive thus far.
“We’ve had staff down there for the past couple of weekends that this has been going on and the feedback in the community has been extremely positive and it has been working as designed with changes that were made,” he said. “As per the comments that I made at council, my concern and council’s concern is how do we find the right balance to ensure that the citizens of Delta who pay taxes for those roads in Boundary Bay are able to access them, yet at the same time realizing that some of the parking situations that the residents have faced with people double parking or parking in their drive-way was just untenable.
“This is why we are doing this as a pilot project. We have to make sure that come the fall we are not just doing feedback forms for the Boundary Bay community, but for Delta as a whole asking does this work and what other kind of adjustments need to be made.”
According to Metro, the shuffle will run every weekend in line with Delta’s parking permit schedule, ceasing in September. If successful it will be used again in future years.
Metro has also put in a drop-off zone at the beach so that cars can turnaround there instead of going into the bay. Delta Police has been doing traffic enforcement turning folks around at the roundabout. All traffic enforcement costs are billed back to Metro.
When asked by the Optimist if the bus is wheelchair accessible, Kelly Hoskins from Metro Vancouver said it is not.
“Unfortunately it is not but if a person can manage the stairs and has a collapsible wheelchair then that can be put in the storage compartment under the bus,” she said. “It has not really been discussed yet, because we haven’t even started this yet. We will see how this goes this summer and then evaluate it after September and see what adjustments can be made to improve it for everyone.”