Tax on physical wellness: citizens oppose new parking fees at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park

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      Sorry folks, there’s no more free parking at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park.

      The only free parking lot at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park is gone.

      On January 1 this year, the city started collecting fees to park at the lot located at the south end of the park.

      This came about after the Vancouver board of parks and recreation approved unanimously on November 30, 2020 a staff report on fees and charges in different areas and facilities in the city.

      The report included a recommendation to impose paid parking at what was then the remaining free parking lot at Queen Elizabeth.

      Over the last number of years, the city had imposed more paid parking at Queen Elizabeth Park.

      Not too long ago, visitors and families could park free on the streets, but this was taken away.

      This left the parking lot near the pitch and putt course and tennis courts as the only free lot, and now it’s no more.

      Citizens are pushing back.

      There is an ongoing petition asking the Vancouver park board to reconsider its decision to take away the last remain free parking lot.

      The area near the parking lot is used by sports associations like the Queen Elizabeth Tennis Club and Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club.

      There are two outdoor roller hockey courts and three basketball courts beside the tennis courts.

      Visitors can also do frisbee, disc golf and pickleball in the area. In addition, there are basketball courts and spaces for roller hockey.

      “Let’s keep this area free and continue to encourage use of facilities that promote healthy living and fitness for all without us having to put our hand in our pocket,” the petition reads.

      The petition describes the new parking fees as a “tax on wellness”.

      “Charging people to park ​to take part in physical fitness activities is really imposing a tax​​ on wellness​​, especially during this time of the pandemic when the additional cost may make people less inclined to go​ out and exercise​ as they will be​ 'watching the clock',” the petition state.

      The park board expects to earn between $100,000 and $130,000 from this lot in parking revenues per year.

      However, the petition asks the board to “reconsider this means of revenue which has not been there before”.

      “Using the public outdoor facilities should be encouraged and imposing a fee to use this lot that services the many clubs and  users is a tax that is not necessary,” the petition states.

      The online petition was started by a group of park users who call themselves QE Wellness.

      Louise Marphis is a member of QE Wellness, and she has asked the board to allow her to present the petition.

      The park board is scheduled to meet on Monday (February 8).

      Marphis told the Straight on Tuesday (February 2) that she hasn’t heard from the board so far if she can address commissioners.

      For those who want to sign the petition, click here.