In a city where downtown parking-meter rates exceed $5 an hour, some might be surprised to learn that Granville Island still offers a lot of free parking.
Next year, that will finally change.
As of June 1, 2019, every parking space across the popular destination for both locals and tourists will cost at least $2 in the winter and $3 during the summer months of May to September.
According to CBC News, the change will affect some 60 percent of parking spots on the island that have historically been free for stays between one and three hours.
A fall 2018 transportation plan for Granville Island suggests that more paid parking has been in the works for some time.
"The current approach to parking is a major contributor to the Island’s congestion, which during peak times can be significant," it explains. "On the Island, the most desirable parking spaces – the free stalls near the Public Market – are also the furthest to drive to on the Island. In order to get to these spaces, the driver passes almost all of the other parking space options on the Island. During peak times when the free spaces are at capacity, the hope of finding one of the coveted free spots likely entices many drivers to circle the Island at least once before resorting to pay parking.
"In order to address the issue of peak period traffic congestion at the Island, a more strategic approach to parking is required," it continues. "Typically, as in other parts of the city and elsewhere, where there is higher demand for parking than supply, there is a cost to park. This helps ensure that the available parking space is better shared among the many people who wish to use it. At Granville Island, where parking can be at or near full capacity at peak times, this suggests that parking rates are too low."
The plan describes installing metered stalls across the island as a "first step" to reducing congestion. A potential second step down the road would be to raise rates to a point where the island maintains a parking-stall usage rate of 85 percent.