White Rock council has endorsed the gradual re-opening of 22 parking spots, adjacent to Finlay Street on East Beach, plus half a lot adjacent to Bayview Park on West Beach – both for residents only – with a 30-minute pay parking limit.
Both measures, designed to alleviate pressure on existing waterfront parking, will become effective as soon as signage can be produced and installed.
The motions, from Couns. Helen Fathers and Christopher Trevelyan, followed a report to council from city financial services director Colleen Ponzini – also in charge of parking enforcement – at the May 11 meeting.
Ponzini had said the city is taking pains to improve the clarity of parking regulations on the waterfront during the current COVID-19 pandemic, particularly now that warmer weather is arriving.
Complicating enforcement to this point, there has been no signage specifically forbidding parking along the blue construction fencing blocking off the promenade, she noted.
There has also been confusion, she added, because existing street signs showing a 30-minute parking limit have been interpreted by the public as 30 minutes of free parking, when in fact it means 30 minutes of pay parking.
“We know that there are issues at the waterfront with parking,” Ponzini said.
“In addition to hoping the public does their part by following the rules, we are going to replace current signage with signs that offer clearer language for enabling enforcement; (and) we’re going to focus parking enforcement at the waterfront,” she said.
“We’re going to increase our presence with additional staff resources, and we’re also looking to the police in providing a presence, particularly on the weekends when extremely busy.”
Ponzini also noted that as city parking rules change to reflect increased business openings, the time needed to replace signage will inevitably delay implementation of those rules.
“It’s very difficult when we’re having to adjust on the fly,” she said, noting the most recent change to open some on-street parking on West Beach for residents took days to put into effect.
“It made it really problematic for (staff) to be able to go out and do the patrols and do the ticketing.
Ponzini said that establishing graduated fines for repeat parking offenders, which had been suggested by council, is not sanctioned by the Community Charter. Rather than increasing fines for parking infractions, she suggested that increasing enforcement staff could help establish “learned behaviour.”
Council’s April 27 directive to staff to open up 43 on-street parking spaces in West Beach for decal holders had been accomplished by May 1, Ponzini said.
Although staff had written 116 tickets prior to the Mother’s Day weekend, she said, the public were generally following parking regulations. Problems spiked, however, on May 9-10.
“This past weekend we saw an increase in activity, and staff ended up issuing another 64 tickets in this area,” she said. “While we do expect to see a decrease of violations in this area as people become accustomed to the new regulations, the decreases will likely be offset by increases, as more people try to come to the beach as more restaurants and shops open.”
Ponzini said that what was learned on the Mother’s Day weekend was that more staff need to be brought in, particularly on weekends. Also learned was that current coverage – with one patroller working in an area at a time, because of physical distancing rules, will have to be increased, she said.
“This, we feel, will also help staff in dealing with the hostility the public is expressing as their frustration mounts with the parking in this area.
“We also had some challenges…in the East Beach area – there were 21 tickets issued between May 2 and 8 and 36 this last weekend.”