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Down with the car, Part XXXIV: Less parking downtown

June 5th, 2009 · 90 Comments

I’m surprised no one has picked up on this, but amid the raft of reports about closing down streets, rapid-bus lanes and you name it, there’s also this report from crazy busy report-writing crew over in engineering. It recommends reducing the minimum and maximum required parking spaces to be built in for new commercial and residential downtown. (There are also some changes in the Broadway/Mount Pleasant area.)

The reductions recommended are up to 65 per cent in some cases. It’s not as drastic as it might seem on the face, since apparently the city has reduced parking requirements on many sites as part of the renegotiation over rezonings. But there is a general move to reduce the amount of parking for commuter employees. At the moment, the general standard is one space for every 2.5-3.5 workers, which engineering has maintained through a combination of private, street and public parking. Now it’s going to be geared more to one space for every 3.5 to 5 employees.

I don’t know if there will be howls of dismay over this or not. (Apparently EasyPark, the city’s parking arm, is not happy about this, as they see this meaning a gradual reduction of demand for their spaces.) I know that there are people who won’t come downtown already because they think it’s too hard to park.

Personally, I find Vancouver an incredibly easy city to park in downtown. In the last week, we got a parking space a block from the Hyatt on a Friday night when we went to partner’s daughter’s high-school grad dance. I can almost always get one in front of the Y when I go downtown. And so on. I acknowledge that I have a naive belief in my own “parking karma,” which has me convinced that, no matter how terrible the rest of my life may be going at that point, I can always find a parking spot.

Yes, even my karma doesn’t work sometimes and, yes, there are certain spots of the downtown and certain events that make parking impossible. But, generally, it’s still a snap compared to other cities I’ve parked in like London (horrifying), Amsterdam (not too bad, if you’re willing to walk a little from more obscure places), Paris (quite reasonable in August and surprisingly easy in non-touristed areas) and San Francisco (the absolute worst).

We’ll see the results of the city’s reduction in, oh, about five years, when the first signs begin to show. But I’d be interested to hear from others whether they think Vancouver is a parking nightmare or not.

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