Starting in a few weeks, visitors to a pair of popular Metro Vancouver parks will need to shell out $2 per hour for parking.
The new fees will operate from Mar. 1 to Oct. 31 at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver, and from Apr. 1 to Sept. 30 at Belcarra Regional Park, which includes the popular Sasamat Lake, in the Tri-Cities area.
Metro Vancouver initiated the pay parking after massive demand for park space during the pandemic last summer led to crowding and parking chaos at some of the region’s more popular destinations.
“First thing in the morning the parking lot fills up, sometimes before 8 a.m. and people fight for parking spots throughout the day,” Mike Redpath, director of regional parks for Metro Vancouver, told Global News.
It says there were more than 16.5 million visits to the regional park system in 2020, up almost 40 per cent from the year prior.
Redpath said the hope is that pricing parking will help control that demand.
“It is an important visitor and demand management tool,” he said. “We realize there are other opportunities for people to access our regional parks, including transit.”
Both the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and Belcarra Park are accessible by bus.
Redpath said the $2 fee was estimated to be a fair market price for the parking and said the District of North Vancouver was also implementing its own pay parking in the area around Lynn Headwaters.
Metro Vancouver does not have an estimate for how much revenue the fee will generate. Redpath said since the idea is to control demand, not raise money. All revenue will be redirected back into improving the parks.
The new fees will be reviewed next year, but Redpath said the plan is for the pay parking to remain in place permanently.