Frances Bula header image 2

City gives parkers a 30-cent break

January 4th, 2010 · 19 Comments

Amid the gloom and doom of the budget, the cutting, the slashing, the tax increases and fee increases, I have found one tiny bit of brightness.

The city’s website highlights a piece of information previously unknown to the paying public — people who pay their parking by phone will no longer be charged the obnoxious 30-cent fee to do so.

As someone who always pays by phone, the fee bugged me a lot. I’m actually SAVING them money by not wearing out their machine with coins. And it’s something I’ve never seen in other cities that have non-coin-payment methods.

I checked out why the sudden generosity ,and communications officer Wendy Stewart said it was just a break the city decided to give parkers since they’re jacking up the parking rates skyhigh and extending the hours to the ridiculous time of 10 p.m. (Okay, she didn’t say that last part but I know she was thinking it.)

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  • Bill Lee

    That will be interesting for late night diners who thought they had free parking after 8 pm and wouldn’t pay after 7 pm on principle.

    I wonder if restaurants, downtown and exurbs, will notice?

    And further on traffic I foresee smashed up machines as they put up those awful traffic advisory flashing billboards all along the semi-freeway called First Avenue from Boundary through to Union and Main foretelling of the Mendacious Megg’s permanent closure of the Georgia/Dunsmuir viaducts.

    A new year starts, lets tear up the roads.

  • asp

    I haven’t owned a car in the 20 years since I moved to the city and am tired of subsidizing the ecological abominations. As you might guess, I don’t have a big problem with higher parking fees.

    Seriously, if we are really going to tackle climate change, we need to get rid of 90% of the cars asap. That means rebuilding the city so that 90% of the population can walk to work.

    I already walk to my favourite restaurants when I go out for dinner, and I go out for dinner a lot. I can afford to, since I don’t pay for a car.

  • landlord

    Getting rid of the viaduct is one of the few really interesting ideas of the current council. Now if we could just get them back into the peace movement…

  • David

    Is this a direct result of so many Vancouverites going to Copenhagen?

  • gmgw

    So when are you taking your message to China and India, where car ownership is not only increasing exponentially, but is also perceived as emblematic of socioeconomic advancement?

    Just wondering how serious you are about your 90% figure and what you’re prepared to do to help achieve it. I think North Americans are getting the message, however slowly. The real work lies elesewhere.

  • Bill Lee

    Yes, now Copenhagen is a direct flight from Seattle as of several years ago, 5 days a week. “Doorway to Scandanavia” they tout it.

    And, related to the side theme of urban agriculture, 1/3 of the city is paved, from extra wide streets, especially in Municipality of Point Grey, to paved lanes rather than gravel in some places, to parking lots, and the tendency of many ‘home owners’ to pave the entire back lot for car and no-care garden ease.

    This is easier to see on the VanMap browser (don’t use the Windows simple version) from where the building boundaries are also shown.

    City foods showed how much urban agriculture they could get out of the part of the city using VanMap.

    So eliminate some of the4 lane streets and turn that land into “Granny cottages” at $1000 per month for the poor and the homeless.

    Move them all to Dunbar and Kerrisdale where they belong. Get them out of sleeping in their cars.

  • Kai Jung

    For those hungry meters . When parking downtown after 7pm I feed them loonies plastered with crazy glue. Lets gum up the works for the new year! .

  • Joseph Jones

    FB: “the ridiculous time of 10 p.m.”

    Ridiculous? Yes! Go to 3 a.m. – and all along have adequate enforcement handing out DUI citations to all those vehicles headed back to the elsewhere.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of the Day
    ” I am thinking, my Parking Meter Valet business it’s starting to become more attractive now, thanks to the new Vision. From 6 to 10 PM, small teams, quarters in hand, paid in tips, good exercise, outdoors. What not to like?”

    Language regarding new parking rules:
    I suggest the City to move to a clearer and more understanding message, like, say for example:

    “Pay Parking shall be enforced in Vancouver, only on alternate Tuesdays from January to May and from September to the first Day of Winter between the hours of 11.22 AM to 9.47 PM. Nudists, Left-handed pickpockets and women trying to get pregnant shall be exempt from these rules.”
    There you go, was that so hard?

    We live in Vancouver…I still wonder, why?

  • asp

    gmgw, I intend to lead by example, what about you?

    I agree that the problem is the upwardly mobile, status seeking wealthy of every country that are the problem.

  • Dan Cooper

    My girlfriend (from Richmond) and I (from Vancouver) went out to a movie and dinner near Burrard and Broadway this last Sunday. With the new parking fee extension to 10 pm, we had to move the car in between the two parts of the evening even though we were just going a few blocks. Hmmmm…. Seems it might be easier to just spend one’s money outside Vancouver, or at least outside the downtown area.

  • Kirk

    I wonder what the restaurants in Vancouver think about the new rules? For many people it will now be $12 more to eat out. If you’re meeting someone else for dinner too, then that’s an extra $24. Imagine if a gang of friends try meeting up. Would this hurt business more than the HST? This is not trivial. It’s probably equivalent to gas going to $10/Litre.

    I agree with asp that it’s great to walk to restaurants, but I think a lot of restaurants rely on patrons driving to dinner. With the cost of real estate here, it’s cheaper to own a car and live in Surrey than to be car-free and live in Vancouver.

    From an environmental viewpoint, it’s win-win. It could lead to less cars and less restaurants. Eating out is bad for the environment too.

  • Joe Just Joe

    I can assure you that it is cheaper for me and and my wife to live in Vancouver and not have a car then it is for us to move to surrey and both have cars. This is with out taking into account all the extra time we save, which is also worth money.

    Also no need to move the car between dinner and a movie, the city now allows you to use your phone and pay for 4hrs up from the previous 2hrs. Beleive it only works in the evenings and not during the day though.

  • asp

    “Eating out is bad for the environment too.”

    Compared to running your own stove and dishwasher? I don’t think so. Anyone seen the data on that?

    The link provided says that a restaurant uses more energy than a clothing store, not than a thousand home kitchens.

  • That “convenience fee” has burned me for ages… but at least I got a cartoon out of it.

    Happy new year, Frances – and thanks for all you do!

  • Dan Cooper

    Hail Joe Just Joe:

    I suspect you’re right that it is cheaper to live in Vancouver and not own a car – assuming everything else (neighbourhood quality, size of house/condo…) remains constant.

    Still, I maintain that you will generally have to move your car – unless it’s a very short movie and you eat a very quick dinner. McDonald’s anyone? Such fun! Anyway, all the meters we saw were either for two or three hours – so the four hour pay-by-phone limit does no good. Previously, you could arrive at 5:00, plug the meter for three hours, and be good for the evening. Now, you have to pay for that three hours, move the car and pungle for two more.

  • S J Schultz

    Tourists & Citizens Be Damned, the City of Vancouver has extended parking meter hours to 10PM. No advertising to let people know; the City simply changed the stickers on the meters – tiny print very difficult to see at night or even in the daytime.

    How is this going to work for the average unsuspecting parker? Well, let’s say Joe & Mrs Pigeon decide to go out for dinner and park at a meter at 7PM:

    Scenario 1: Joe is aware that meters have been in effect ’til 8 for about a decade so plugs the meter for 1 hour. Ooops – they receive a ticket after 8. For $70. Yes, SEVEN-ZERO dollars.

    Scenario 2: Somehow – perhaps with ESP – Joe knows the meter is in effect until 10PM. So he tries to plug meter for 3 hours. Ooops – after 2 hours the meter ACCEPTS THEIR MONEY BUT DOESN’T GIVE TIME as meters max out at 2 hours. Poor ole Pigeons – the City’s suckered them yet again.

    But, hey, what about that new-fangled Pay-by-phone?? To serve yourself up for that little con you must have a cell phone and a credit card and A WILLINGNESS TO GIVE THAT INFO TO THE CITY AND THE PRIVATE COMPANY THAT RUNS THE PROGRAM (oh yes, the City doesn’t advertise this public-private partnership either …)

    In what must be near the lowest form of work for a lawyer, City lawyers have actually changed City bylaws to allow Pay-by-phone users – and only pay-by-phone users – to circumvent the repeat metering bylaw.

    You don’t have a cell or credit card or don’t fancy giving that info to who knows how many people down the line? Tough luck: YOU CANNOT LEGALLY PARK AT CITY OF VANCOUVER METERS FOR THE EVENING. (And some of you Vancouverites thought they were YOUR streets … think again suckers.)

    My friends and I have already decided to give Vancouver a miss. There ain’t enough there to warrant this kind of government abuse. And to the rest of you Pigeons (and tourists) – good luck fighting the machine.

  • Joe Just Joe

    People know that downtown still has parkades right? People can park in a parkade and not worry about time limits. Not to mention that it’s always to use a parkade then to park on the streets if you are parking for anything over 30minutes.

    Anyways just so I don’t sound like I’m defending the city’s choice of 10pm I agree that it’s too late. I would have prefered that they instead left it 8pm and started the meters at either 7am or 8am instead of 9am. Had they adjusted the meters the other way they would’ve had less complaints.

  • MB

    This tempest in a teapot is all just part of owing a car in a city and society that has devoted a stratospheric level of public resources to accommodating them over every other conceivable mode of transport.

    On the private cost side, we bought a ’93 VW Golf seven years ago for $7,000. It is necessary to commute 26 km round trip to work and back, but we have have fairly modest fuel and maintenance costs. We pay directly for parking in downtown only on evenings and weekends, and unlike several of the complainers above, we have found several parkades that charge a very reasonable $5 flat fee outside of 9-5 / M-F.

    Including all private costs (purchase price, insurance, fuel, repairs, weekend parking), it costs us $11.70 per day to run the car.

    If you factor these rather modest car costs over 10 years, it works out to $42,700, or 6.1 times the original purchase price. Now that’s something to think about.

    If someone wants to bitch about the new rates of on-street parking, portraying them as somehow “unfair”, then I’d like to see some of their private costs of running a vehicle. If they have a Navigator at $21 / day with primarily a single-occupant, then they deserve to pay through the nose for a downtown space without complaint.

    If they lease a single-occupant Navigator and get the company to pay for it along with the $18 / day tax-deductable expense of a private parking space downtown and still feel they have a right to bitch about the parking rates on public streets (let alone road taxes), then they are eejits.

    Parking is just one of several things that will escalate in price (perhaps radically) with respect to vehicles over the next decade.

    You ain’t seen nothing yet.