Property crime on the decline at city-owned parking lots

Property crime declined last year at EasyPark lots, according to a report going to council on Tuesday (July 7).

The City of Vancouver is a partner in EasyPark, which operates city-owned lots across the city.

The report cites 631 thefts from auto in 2008, down from 711 in 2007 and 742 in 2006.

In addition, credit-card fraud also went down: $71,000 worth of tickets were purchased with fraudulent cards last year, compared with $107,000 in 2007 and $113,000 in 2006.

Street people have been known to  use stolen credit cards to buy tickets, which they resell to patrons.

EasyPark has also reported a sharp drop in "vagrants": 6,174 in 2008, down from 10,502 in 2007.

Staff have recommend that council approve EasyPark's $1.9-million capital budget in 2009.

It includes $147,000 for noise makers at various lots which, according to the report, "deter vagrants".

The report noted that City of Vancouver-owned parking lots generated a $14.5-million profit in 2008. That represents 63 percent of all money spent on parking fees.

EasyPark surpassed its forecast last year  for city-owned lots by $1.4 million.

The city's net proceeds from EasyPark were $11.95 million last year. This year, EasyPark has forecast net revenues of $15.2 million from city-owned lots, and net proceeds to the city of $11.8 million.

This year's proposed  capital budget is $700,00 higher than last year. Almost all of it would come from the city, with $8,400 coming from Public Works Canada for work at Library Square. The federal government is a tenant in the office tower in the complex.

In addition to funding noise makers, capital funds would be spent on such things as the replacement of glass awnings at its Gastown lot, revenue equipment at a West Cordova Street lot, a major capital-spending project in partnership with Cadillac Fairview (which owns Pacific Centre on leased land from the city), and security cameras at a lot on Mainland Street.

In 1997, council reached an operating agreement with EasyPark granting it authority to operate its off-street parking lots independently, but it must seek council's approval for capital spending.

Net revenue from parking lots held by the city's Property Endowmen Fund flow back to the PEF. Net revenues from core parking operations go to the parking site reserve to fund parking projects in the city.