Metro Vancouver is seeking feedback on a proposed pay-to-reserve parking system at Boundary Bay Regional Park, starting in the 2022 peak season, to improve traffic and congestion.
The Centennial Beach location has seen a significant jump in park users, from 923,000 visitors in 2019 to nearly 1.4 million in 2020, a 40 percent increase. Over 400,000 people came to the park in July and August 2020 alone.
An online survey is now active until Aug. 25. It can also be done in person at the park this Sunday and again on Aug. 15. The survey offers a wide range of questions from number of annual park visits to parking rate suggestions.
“We just want to get as much public feedback as we can. We know some people won’t be happy about this, but we really found this is the best way to manage traffic as well as to give everybody a better park experience,” said Metro Regional Parks Chair John McEwen. “Those funds are going back into the parks and it’s really directly related to we want to encourage people to use public transit.”
Last year, Metro introduced a free weekend shuttle service from the South Delta Recreation Centre to help ease traffic issues around the park. A Boundary Bay permit parking program was also initiated by the City of Delta for nearby residents.
McEwen said Metro launched paid parking at its Belcarra and Lynn Headwaters parks last spring but the Boundary Bay proposal would be different after consulting with Delta Mayor George Harvie who also sits on the Metro Parks committee.
An estimated 30 percent of the parking stalls would be available for online reservation while the rest would remain free to the public.
“It is a bit of hybrid and that was with the direction of Mayor Harvie to allow free as well as to be able to reserve,” continued McEwen. “We would also have the free shuttle service and public transit (as other options). As a region we are looking at ways to make sure more people can come and they are not frustrated when they come a large distance. It could also distribute some people to the different regional parks that aren’t so busy.
“Traffic out your way is a big, big issue and I know the City of Delta is really concerned about it. They want us to take in this engagement process to see what the people of Delta are going to be comfortable with. It really is causing an incredible challenge for the residents in the area that are fortunate to live there and be able to walk to the park but they didn’t sign on to have congestion and not being able to get out of their houses.”
Metro is charging $2 per hour for parking at Belcarra and Lynn Headwaters.“Pay parking is only effect during the busy times of the year but those are now stretching from six months to nine months and we really don’t know where it’s going to go,” McEwen added. “There was a bit of angst in regards to (paid parking) at Seymour and Belcarra but what we are seeing now is a bigger turnover of park visitors. People are making better plans whether it’s commuting together as a bigger group in one vehicle or taking transit.”