Skip to content

What should Delta, Metro Vancouver do about truck parking dilemma?

Commercial truck parking is not a permitted use on the ALR
Some of the solutions outlined by Metro staff include the province or other agencies providing a truck parking app for the entire region to match truck operators with owners of available land. Delta Optimist file

Should the City of Delta consider exploring the permitting overnight on-street parking for big rigs on roads in industrial areas or on some public roads.

A recent regional district staff report to the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors outlined the ongoing issue of a lack of truck parking in the region and the problem of farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) being used as overnight parking lots. Potential solutions were also outlined.

“Based on preliminary exploration, there are some possible solutions that could be further considered including updates to municipal policies and bylaws, and enhanced enforcement. It is clear that there is a need for collaboration between member jurisdictions, other levels of government, and other agencies and organizations to address this ongoing issue,” the report notes.

Agricultural land is already facing pressures and is also facing significant and ongoing degradation by illegal uses such as vehicle storage, commercial truck parking, and the placement of construction fill, debris, and garbage. All of those uses compromise the production potential of farmland, particularly when fill, surface pavement and gravel are added to a site, the report warns.

In a recent interview on the issue, Hugh Davies, the City of Delta’s property use and compliance manager, told the Optimist there have been fewer complaints lately when it comes to agricultural land in Delta being used as parking lots for big rigs.

The city does enforce commercial trucks parked on roadways including areas such as Tilbury, Annacis Island and Nordel Court, where many vehicles were parking overnight.

Davies said the city managed to restrict that activity by enforcing a regulation not allowing overnight parking on roadways.

In 2016, Delta council amended the municipal highways bylaw to restrict overnight parking of any commercial vehicle on roadways, a move in response to commercial vehicles parking overnight on Annacis Island.

It was part of a series of measures the municipality implemented to address ongoing traffic and parking concerns raised by businesses located on the island at the north end of the Alex Fraser Bridge.

A report to council at the time noted bylaw staff observed many drivers operating trucks based outside Delta used Annacis Island to store their commercial vehicles during the night and on weekends, and in turn, park their personal passenger vehicles during the day. The activity not only increased the number of unnecessary vehicle trips entering and leaving the island, but reduced the availability of on-street parking, the report noted.

The bylaw amendment restricted commercial vehicle parking between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., which was consistent with adjacent municipalities such as Surrey and Richmond.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure operates a truck parking facility at Nordel Way near the Alex Fraser Bridge in Delta. The facility can accommodate up to 40 trucks to park overnight and includes lighting and washrooms.

Meanwhile, currently under construction in north Surrey, the provincial and federal governments invested in a new truck parking facility on the north side of Highway 17, near the Port Mann Bridge. When completed, that facility will have room for about 100 trucks, while as part of the ongoing Fraser Valley Highway 1 expansion project, the province is contemplating expanding truck parking at the Bradner Road rest stop in Abbotsford and at an improved 264 Street interchange in Langley.

However, the issue of a lack of parking for big rigs prompted the City of Surrey to establish a special task force four years ago, which came up with a series of recommendations including developing an on-street truck parking permit program on specific streets in select industrial areas, allowing truck parking in select low-density residential areas and reducing costs for the development of new truck parking facilities.

Surrey had identified that the lack of adequate authorized truck parking facilities is an ongoing issue and, given the cross-boundary aspect of transportation, is highlighted as a regional concern.

The Surrey Truck Parking Strategy also recommended that the city advocate the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and the province enhance enforcement of unauthorized truck parking on agricultural land, contact owners of industrial lands encouraging them to consider allowing third-party truck parking on any surplus lands, as well as allow truck parking on specified large rural lots.

In October 2023, Surrey council directed staff to identify city-owned lands that could potentially be utilized for commercial truck parking and issue a request for proponents to lease and operate truck parking facilities.

The City of Abbotsford also set up a task force a decade ago to examine the issue, coming up with its own series of recommendations including examining the use of specified city roads in industrial areas on a pilot project basis for overnight commercial truck parking.

The Metro report also identified additional considerations including municipal zoning regulations that restrict the locations where commercial trucks can be parked varying by jurisdiction and zone, while municipalities often regulate and limit vehicle parking on public roads, including overnight truck parking.

The report goes on to note that there is a potential to park additional trucks on industrial lands, although those lands are in limited supply, are largely already used and expensive. Some industrial lots may not be fully occupied at night and could allow for overnight truck parking, but some conflicts could arise, similar to overnight parking on underutilized commercial or retail sites.

Noting vacant agricultural land should not be assumed to be unproductive, the report outlined a series of potential solutions including the Metro board advocating the province to take on more of a leadership role, through such actions as coordinating enforcement of existing regulations, including those of the ALC and municipalities, across the region and in the adjacent regional districts, as well as strengthening legislation to increase the capacity of the ALC.

The report also notes municipalities can also take action by exploring the potential, through partnerships, regulatory or incentive-based options, for select municipally-owned properties, as well as commercial sites such as retail shopping centres and big box stores with large surface parking lots, and also industrial lands to be used for overnight truck parking.

Delta council in late 2022 approved a rezoning application for a property on Swenson Way to allow the site to be used as a heavy truck parking lot. The truck and trailer parking spaces would only have a couple of dozen spaces, operated as satellite parking for the established trucking business. A staff report noted the demand for truck parking across the region has led to concerns about the availability of suitable heavy truck parking locations.