NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe strikes a chord with promise on parking meters

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      The NPA might pick up a substantial number of votes with a pledge to give motorists a reprieve on some parking fees.

      The party's mayoral candidate, Kirk LaPointe, has announced that if his party wins control of city hall, it will restore free parking at meters outside the downtown core on Sundays and statutory holidays.

      More importantly for the city's cultural sector, he has pledged that drivers won't have to plug meters after 8 p.m. seven days a week.

      This is the type of promise that's designed to persuade NPA sympathizers to show up and vote on November 15.

      Under Mayor Gregor Robertson, the city extended parking-meter hours to 10 p.m. It was one of several technocratic innovations designed to vacuum as much money as possible from drivers' wallets.

      Here are a few examples:

      • The city introduced the pay-by-phone approach, which means that even if the car leaves the spot, there's never extra time on the meter for the next driver.

      • There is a "target occupancy" of 85 percent at parking meters to maximize revenue. That led to price hikes in many areas of the city.

      • More cash was generated by placing meters in areas where they didn't exist before.

      The city is also a partner in EasyPark, which operates more than 50 lots around Vancouver. And by extending enforcement of parking meters to 10 p.m., it elevated the likelihood that more people would leave their vehicles in EasyPark lots in the evening.  Presto, more cash for the city.

      That's because anyone attending a show starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is going to park at the library rather than leave a car on Georgia or Hamilton streets, given the two-hour limit on meters.

      EasyPark has figured out a new way to raise even more cash by imposing a special-event fee when the B.C. Lions or Whitecaps are playing. It's applied to everyone, even those who are merely visiting the library's central branch to return books.

      In the past, the city has justified its parking-meter fees by claiming that it accelerates the turnover of spots. That supposedly helps local businesses. But judging by the number of retail vacancies on Robson Street, in the South Granville area, and on West Broadway in recent years, that claim rings a little hollow.

      It's equally likely that drivers spend less time in shops and high-tail it to suburban malls to avoid a $35 fine from the parking enforcers.

      By law, municipal governments are required to balance their budgets. The problem in our city is that the rate of property-tax increases under Vision Vancouver never matches the rate of spending increases.

      Council's response has been to look for additional sources of revenue to offset rising expenditures on police services, in particular, as well as on new separated bike lanes and other greenest-city initiatives.

      Higher parking fees and extending the hours of enforcement at meters have helped offset the shortfall.

      In May 2011, I estimated that revenue from parking would rise 35 percent that year over the amount generated in 2008 before Vision Vancouver took control and started making changes.

      In 2013, parking revenue reached $52.1 million. That's an 87 percent increase over the $27.8 million raised in 2008.

      Now, LaPointe has called Vision politicians out on this.

      But will he promise to increase property taxes or trim increases in the police budget to offset the cost of this move? Not likely.




      Oct 12, 2014 at 11:01am

      I don't think the author of this article knows what "grade separated means." Last I checked, the only bike lanes that are grade separated are the ones on the bridges and the viaducts. Unlike skytrain, bike lanes usually don't need a guideway.

      The greenest city initiatives are not the thing eating up the biggest chunk of money. For that, you just have to look at inflation on goods, salaries, etc. So why bring up this relatively tiny chunk of the budget?

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      \lee L

      Oct 12, 2014 at 11:20am

      Excellent explanation of the workings of the Vision Vancouver car park scheme.

      I suggest we stop referring to the money coerced from car drivers as 'revenue' and call it what your article shows it really is... TAX. I even recall a talk with a Vancouver transportation planner who referred to meter and parking lot fees as 'Parking Tax'.

      As your article explains, Charlie, this TAX actually offsets property tax increases and thus is an unfair TAX on drivers who are then paying a disproportionate share of what are really property tax increases.

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      Oct 12, 2014 at 11:28am

      So parking is a platform to get votes,It's not a surprise that people don't vote.

      mark A

      Oct 12, 2014 at 11:36am

      I think that if there was a true and open review of the City's budget, on a line by line basis, the taxpayers would see where the waste is and where we will be able to pay for the services we want within the budget WITHOUT tax increases beyond the cost of living.
      This is something that has NOT happened in the last six years with vision in control ! Their idea of keeping the taxpayer inform is to put out little pamphlets that have pit charts on them - you cannot access the budget to review items on a line by line basis. THe budgets are just smoke and mirrors.
      The NPA has pledged to open the books and be totally transparent - I look forward to that day.


      Oct 12, 2014 at 11:50am

      Get rid of vision, they are a bunch of actors being told what to do by people who do not care about anything other than profits, so either the coucilors and mayor are too stupid to realize this or they are too psycopathic and power hungry to care. Everything looks really cool when you have millions of dollars for marketing and a communications staff of 33 people. Vision have done more damage than imaginable, second only to the great fire of 1886. On Nov 15th, exercise your democratic right and get rid of vision, the party that has been sucking up your tax dollars and has done all it can to stifle your democratic rights, there are other better options out there, the NPA have good candidates such as rob McDowell and john coupar, john helped save the blodel conservatory, vision wanted it knocked, as much as anyone wants to call them a developer friendly party, they look like bob the builder in comparison to the skyscraper machine that vision is. The greens have excellent people too, Pete fry is an intelligent and hard working individual as too is Stuart McKinnon who is running for Parks board. Cedars Glen and Nicholas Chernen have a lot to bring to the table too, these two have been exposing millions that vision has let go uncollected, as well as pointing out Visions tendency to sell off city assets to developer friends, they have along with the greens instituted donation limits, this is a big problem right now, unlimited donations are allowed and this seriously affects some big decisions being made about Vancouver. A mixed slate is what Vancouver needs, no majority on council, it serves the people no good, an ideal council would habe maybe 2-3NPA 2-3 green 2-3 Cedar 2-3 Cope and anyone but Robertson for mayor. GET OUT AND VOTE, STOP VISION AND SAVE YOUR CITY

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      Paul LeBlanc

      Oct 12, 2014 at 12:19pm

      The two hour limit on meters does not apply after 6PM if you pay by phone. So in that case you could actually see a 7:30 event at the QE Theatre and park at a meter.


      Oct 12, 2014 at 12:32pm

      He's got my vote. Any city that charges $6 per hour for meter parking just really doesn't give a damn about the residents. They are only interested in sucking the residents dry (I give you Gregor the greedy).


      Oct 12, 2014 at 1:07pm

      Transit users have to pay the bulk of their costs directly at the fare box, regardless of the time of day. Why should those who choose to drive and park in the city get a free pass for it? They don't pay anything near their cost to the city to begin with.

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      Charlie Smith

      Oct 12, 2014 at 1:53pm

      Dear Paul Leblanc,

      I was not aware that you could pay by phone for more than two hours after 6 p.m.

      But who wants to add more time in the middle of seeing a concert or a play? It's not going to endear you to the person sitting beside you inside the Queen E.

      Charlie Smith

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      Paul LeBlanc

      Oct 12, 2014 at 5:28pm

      Hi Charlie,

      Agreed that buying time during an event would be bad. However the Pay by Phone system will allow you to buy four hours at once if you buy after 6pm. This link mentions it: