The City of Port Moody will be considering a pilot program to add paid parking at some of its most popular locations – eventually.
On May 16, Coun. Kyla Knowles called for a one-year trial introducing parking fees at Rocky Point and Old Orchard parks, Murray Street and Ungless way, beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
Other councillors, however, expressed concern over making a decision without more analysis, public engagement, and time for staff to report back.
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“I don’t think this is something that we can make happen in six months,” Dilworth said, adding the three previous councils have considered paid parking. “Mayor [Meghan] Lahti and myself will tell you, this isn’t our first rodeo, and we know how this is going to play in the community.”
Paid parking is intended to encourage transit use, reduce traffic, quicken parking turnover, and diversify the city’s revenue streams, according to the motion.
Knowles said Port Moody would just be catching up to its neighbours, as most cities in Metro Vancouver already have paid parking, including Coquitlam,
“Everyone knows, trying to find a parking spot near or at Rocky Point in the summer is nearly impossible,” Knowles said. “Families come and park the entire day for free because they can.”
All-day parking is available at the West Coast Express parking lot for only three dollars. The lot is rarely at capacity outside of special events like Ribfest, Knowles added.
She said the city should be trying to get people to use alternative modes of transportation wherever possible due to the climate emergency.
Knowles described paid parking as a progressive social policy that would offset the costs of maintaining the city’s existing infrastructure by shifting costs onto everyday users.
The maintenance of parking spaces is more expensive than people realize, and there’s no land left to construct more parking, Knowles concluded.
While Dilworth agreed park parking fits within the city’s strategic plan, the prior city reports and public engagements need to be considered before a decision is made.
She said the public needs to be given the opportunity to provide input. Staff also need proper time to source machines and look at their staff’s capacity and resources requirements, Dilworth explained.
“We’re gonna get a huge backlash from the community … We need to help bring our community along to understand why this decision is being made,” Dilworth said.
She suggested giving staff another six months to come up with a more in-depth plan.
Coun. Haven Lurbiecki agreed with Dilworth, stating they need more details on potential locations, implementation costs and enforcement, estimated revenue intakes, and other impacts.
“The reality is a decision like this can have positive and negative impacts on our community as a whole,” Lurbeicki said. “I personally do not find this at all black and white.”
Lurbiecki said the program should consider options such as drop off spaces, resident or family passes, and a certain amount of free time.
She said there are clear equity issues, and disagreed with Knowles’ characterization of paid parking as a progressive social policy.
“A flat paid parking charge is the definition of regressive,” Lurbiecki said. “Different people have different abilities to pay, yet are being charged the same rate.”
Paid parking would unquestionably add cash to city coffers, Lubiecki said, but the other benefits claimed need to be examined.
While Coun. Samantha Agtarap was generally supportive of more review, she said enough information could be pulled from other municipalities’ parking programs.
Agtarap said Port Moody had prioritized vehicle transportation for too long, and it needs to take “drastic action” to reduce its transportation emissions and meet its climate goals.
“I absolutely think we need to get this done as soon as possible,” she said. “Sometimes you need carrots, and sometimes you need sticks.”
Agtarap said the Rocky Point Park parking lot is being used for more than just park recreation, and the city needs to be able to create turnover at the location, noting some cities have paid parking on all residential and street parking.
‘We’re just talking about paid parking at really busy places … “It’s not a hurdle that can’t be overcome.”
Several amendments were suggested to the original motion, but council eventually voted to defer a decision until staff could provide more fulsome report.
Dilworth said requesting staff to submit a pilot program in such a short time frame was an “extraordinary ask,” adding other priorities would be stalled.
She said the program would also run parallel to development of the city’s master plans for transportation and Rocky Point Park.
City Manager Tim Savoie agreed with Dilworth, stating he didn’t think staff could complete the plan by early 2024 without delaying other projects.