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Opinion: Burnaby could stop dirty parking wars by issuing permits

Some neighbourhoods have residents fighting with residents
Street parking. File photo Dan Toulgoet

Some issues just get people riled up.

Traffic is one. People love arguing about traffic issues. Cycling infrastructure is another. But those pale in comparison with the kind of heat that sparks when people debate issues surrounding street parking.

I was reminded about this when I posted a column last weekend about people putting out orange cones to block the parking spots in front of their homes on a public street.

This, of course, is not allowed.

“No person shall excavate in, do or construct any works upon, cause a nuisance upon, encumber, obstruct, injure, foul, or damage any portion of a highway or other public place without written permission so to do from Council and except under such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Council in such permission,” reads Burnaby’s traffic and street bylaw.

The bylaw, however, doesn’t seem to matter to some folks because the spots are in front of their homes and, dammit, “outsiders” shouldn’t park there.

I’ve received more than 50 messages from readers giving me all sorts of arguments about street parking. One person wrote that they will destroy any cones they see put on a public street. 

One idea that several readers have put forward is for Burnaby to adopt the system that Vancouver uses - on a wider level - in which people can buy permits to park on the street in their neighbourhood. Annual permits start at around $45 and go up to $90 – unless you live in the West End, in which you can pay $400.

I’m sure homeowners already feel like they pay enough in taxes, but if a street is really struggling with parking issues, this could be a targeted solution. It’s not perfect, but according to the messages I’ve received, there are some really dirty parking wars going on and something needs to be done to people to stop fighting with each other.

Some support this idea for Burnaby.

“I agree that the City of Burnaby should implement the cash grab that is residential permit parking for locals that have parking issues,” wrote David Tieu, in response to a letter we ran. “I don't know that this will solve his problem entirely, but it would at least prevent folks that are using the streets as a park and ride for transit. So, take it up with the city.”

“Burnaby Hospital is an excellent example for permit parking to protect the residents right to park on their block,” wrote John Artuso. “This should also be extended to Pender and Albert streets as the residents along the Hastings corridor face the same issues with visitor parking.”

“No one wants to pay for parking,” wrote Tak, in response to a letter by Glen Power. “Thus people look for free parking (I do too). As Glen says, I agree with putting controls like ‘residents only’ in some neighbourhoods to curve non-resident parking by ‘park & ride’ people. This will help to some extent, but as multiple families live in single-detached homes, cars will have to spill over to street. ‘Resident only’ permits may just trigger another street parking shortage as this may prompt residents to get their second or third cars. With the pandemic, I think a lot of people got cars for work. My neighbourhood was easy to find street parking, but now all street parking is filled by early evening until next morning. Fighting for street parking is just another part of city living where houses don't come with enough parking spots.”

Having said all of this, I doubt Burnaby would do this on a wide scale. I think it’s too politically unpopular. It also punishes renters who often aren’t allowed to park in the basement suites they rent.

In the meantime, please don’t block sections of a public street. It’s a bad look.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.