Relax downtown parking rules

“It shouldn’t be looked at as revenue, it should be looked at as an education and be part of the customer experience and service.”

Parking enforcement has become an issue according to Coun. Gordy Robson.

Maple Ridge should tweak its parking regulations in the downtown to make it easier to shop and easier to park.

Coun. Gordy Robson, who in 1991, helped form the Maple Ridge Downtown Parking Society, says enforcement of parking rules is too strict and it’s hurting business. While regulations are needed, so too is some relaxation.

Robson said that about seven years ago the parking society enforced parking limits in the downtown, a chore that was often seen as more educational than punitive, so that motorists knew the limits.

But with the city’s bylaws department now in charge,  too many fines are being issued.

“These guys are so good you can be there for an hour and four minutes and you get a ticket. We didn’t do that when the downtown parking [society] ran it.

“They certainly aren’t helping with the way they are enforcing parking, that’s for sure,” Robson said.

“I think we are over zealous. It shouldn’t be looked at as revenue, it should be looked at as an education and be part of the customer experience and service.”

The downtown parking society was formed in order to provide parking lots for employees of downtown business, so they wouldn’t occupy storefront parking stalls.

Today, employees who work downtown continue to park where they shouldn’t.

The issue will become more top-of-mind when Walmart opens in Haney Place Mall this fall, drawing in more traffic downtown, Robson said.

“I think it’s going to get far worse when Walmart gets here.”

He favours expanding the underground parking lot beneath the Leisure Centre, which currently has 500 stalls, as part of redeveloping the core area.

Parking will always be an issue, said Coun. Craig Speirs.

“We’ve got lots of parking.”

But it’s important to ensure that there’s not too much parking because that creates too much asphalt.

He suggests that a long-term goal would be to build a parkade on city land near the Haney Place Mall.

However, concentrating any new stalls into one new parkade, would be too inconvenient for shoppers because it would be too far from other parts of downtown, says Bob Jones, president of the downtown parking society.

Speirs would also like to see some relaxation and creativity in parking in order to make it easier to shop.

“You want people to stay in the downtown for a few hours.”

He’d also like to see the city to offer free parking in its parkade beneath the Leisure Centre on Saturdays.

“The public relations and the goodwill and the benefit to the downtown would be immense.”

Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association executive-director Ineke Boekhorst said there’s enough parking in the downtown, even when Walmart opens in Haney Place Mall this fall.

What has to improve is informing people where those parking stalls are in order to make it easier to stay downtown. Better signage with maps, diagrams and explanation is key. In European cities, big signs make it clear at the entrances to downtown where people can park.

“We know there are more than 6,000 spots in the downtown.

“It’s just that they’re not in the right place.”

Boekhorst says there are exactly 6,790 parking stalls within the BIA boundaries, including staff parking.

And she notes that parking anywhere on Maple Ridge streets, except for the underground parking lot below the Leisure Centre, is free.

But there are time limits of either one-hour, two-hours in the core area, although just few blocks from the core area, you can park all day.

She said one-hour parking limits are needed to ensure there’s space outside restaurants or other businesses so people can move in and out.

“It’s still free parking. Go downtown Vancouver, you can’t park anywhere.”

But she’d also like to see some relaxation of parking enforcement by the city’s bylaws departments. “We could have a little more flexibility.”

Boekhorst pointed out that the BIA has asked Mayor Nicole Read if the downtown parking society could resume parking enforcement.

“But it hasn’t gone anywhere.”

Boekhorst added that people parking in the unused parking lot in the former Target parking lot, are getting ticketed, and she wonders why. “They’re ticketing people in the parking lot while there’s nothing going on that side.” The mall is currently undergoing an ownership change.

The city, the BIA and the parking society all should cooperate and find ways to improve parking downtown, said Jones. He also wants to expand the underground parking beneath the civic buildings and open them to the public, not just users of the city buildings.

He too says enforcement “can be a little more forgiving.

“We need a lot more parking (conveniently located) because people don’t like to walk.”

When Haney Place Mall expanded for the new Target store a few years ago, it encroached on to the parking lot, reducing the number of stalls, so there are actually fewer parking spots than 20 years ago, he said.

“The thing is, a more comprehensive plan has to be done.”

 

Just Posted

Super 30 screening at ACT in Maple Ridge

Movie is based on international best-selling book by Maple Ridge doctor

Camp closing means it’s time to heal and move on, says MLA

Watershed moment for Maple Ridge, says D’Eith

Local rink wins King Cash Spiel

Ryan Rink wins World Curling Tour event in Maple Ridge

Several charges after arrest Friday in Maple Ridge

Court appearance Monday in Port Coquitlam

Maple Ridge’s Tiller’s Folly kick off international music series in Surrey

Come Dancing Around the World takes place at the Surrey Arts Centre

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

B.C. Ferries wants input on concepts for a Horseshoe Bay terminal re-design

Ferry corporation accepting public feedback until Oct. 13

Most Read