February 8, 2018

Yaletown Retail Businesses To Lose On~Street Parking with Axing of City Metered Cash Cow

Various media sources including the Vancouver Sun have reported on the City of Vancouver Engineering’s plan to reduce 80 to 90  city metered parking spaces in Yaletown’s five blocks around the rather funky Mainland and Hamilton Street retail area. The area to be impacted is the metered angle parking that serves the commercial businesses. One, a flower shop, needs the space for commercial deliveries that occur several times a day. The Yaletown Business Improvement Area’s executive director, Annette O’Shea calls this parking reduction “absolutely devastating”  and stated “There’s been no consultation whatsoever. The residents don’t know what’s going on, businesses don’t know what’s going on. We know we’re going to lose some parking. We totally accept that we’re going to lose some parking,” she said.But to have this slash-and-burn mentality of we’re going to lose all the parking, it’s totally unacceptable.”
The metered parking spaces to be chopped  are among the top cash cow performers in the City of Vancouver parking meter stable, which brings in $50 million dollars a year, or over $4 million dollars a month.
The rationale for the stripping of metered parking is “safety” according to the City of Vancouver Fire Department. Unlike the rest of  the downtown, these  Yaletown streets uniquely have a street on the front and back of each building instead of a skinny back lane. This  means that any fires can be accessed and fought from both sides of the building.
Street space been an ongoing issue for the last thirty years where the Fire Department has consistently asked the Engineering Department for less parking and even street widening for their vehicles in the West End.  Traffic circles were considered bad for fire trucks until computer programs proved that they could easily negotiate around them, or use their edges. Speed bumps were also considered bad for fire trucks, not because of elapsed emergency time, but because firemen hit their heads on the truck roofs with the bumps.
Price Tags Vancouver has already reported about the City of San Francisco obtaining eight new fire trucks that are ten inches shorter and can make a u-turn in  twenty-five feet. These trucks are being commissioned for the less wide and more curving street network in the downtown area. The new trucks also have cameras that give a 360 degree view around the engine for pedestrian and cyclist safety according to Vision Zero principles.
The City of Vancouver is holding a public meeting on February 22  at the Roundhouse Community Center between 2:00 and 8:00 p.m to discuss proposed changes.

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  2. I work in the area and I see that large pickup trucks park in the angled spots. They project into the traffic lane and effectively cut off delivery trucks from travelling the traffic lane. Also many drivers do not know how to park in the angle spots and a number of cars project into the traffic lane on any given day.
    Traffic enforcement can not deal with this problem for they can not instantly stop and move drivers from blocking the traffic lane. A fire is an emergency and the trucks need access now and can not wait until a tow truck shows up.
    The length of the fire trucks is not an issue- it is the angle parking.

  3. The sidewalks opposite the raised loading platforms are ridiculously narrow and further narrowed by utility poles and other obstructions. This must have a negative impact on businesses on that side of the street. Once the angled parking is removed it should free up enough space to use part of it to widen the sidewalks.
    There is also a Canada Line station near the middle of this area and tens of thousands of people living within a five minute walk. The loss of some parking shouldn’t have that big an impact. Again, merchants tend to think everyone arrives by car when it is often a small number in our core areas.

  4. The photo of the parked cars posted above suggests that some drivers have trouble parking in the allotted spaces, whatever the alignment of the spaces.
    The issue isn’t just with the emergency vehicles. Delivery vehicles are often double parked, people stop wherever they want to, and the street generally doesn’t work very well. The emergency vehicles are just what brings it to a head.
    The very popular Yaletown Farmer’s Market was moved out of Yaletown, away from residents and up to the Queen E Plaza, because of objections about impacts on parking.
    These streets are candidates for bike and pedestrian priority streets, the same as Robson and Water. Allow essential delivery vehicles.
    Does the Yaletown BIA have customer intercept surveys detailing how their customers get to their businesses? That type of survey was quite a surprise on Commercial Drive.

    1. If Yaletown were in a European city, it would be have been a ped zone long ago. I used to think that Robson would be a good candidate for second ped zone after Water St, but now I would vote for Yaletown. the narrow streets would be perfect ped priority zones. Deliveries could be done by cargo bike during the day and by delivery trucks during very early morning. Good access from Canada Line station.

  5. If C O V charged market driven parking fees there would be no shortage of parking stalls & no whining when some are removed for safety & sidewalk widening. The merchants charge market driven prices for their goods & services ,the city should do the same

    1. Isn’t that the plan? I am sure that the city would not forgo the revenue unless there were a very good reason. I have never seen any evidence that the city is anti-car but lots of evidence that they are pro-people.

  6. Jeff says:These streets are candidates for bike and pedestrian priority streets, the same as Robson and Water. Allow essential delivery vehicles.
    absolutely yes, and as notice Ron: The sidewalks opposite the raised loading platforms are ridiculously narrow and further narrowed by utility poles and other obstructions. This must have a negative impact on businesses on that side of the street. yes it is clear, and it is wheelchair hostile.
    So here the fire access issue gives the perfect impetus to redesign those street to be more people than car friendly.
    But what we hear from City Hall?
    Mayor Gregor Robertson expressed some doubt as to whether the move is the best way forward in the long term reports CTV
    There is much less doubt when it is time to disrupt a bus lane…so really, a good idea from this guy to not run again as a mayor!
    …and an excellent opportunity for NPA to show how much more progressive than Vision it can be…

    1. I see you crossed out my reference to Robson Street. Too bad.
      I agree with you and with Ron about how bad the sidewalks are.
      Please refer to the Transportation 2040 plan, adopted in 2012. Water, Robson, and Hamilton/Mainland are all identified for pedestrian priority.
      The only reason I can think of not to spend a bunch of money taking out the angle parking (which I support doing) is if the street was further improved at the same time with reduced traffic. Maybe that is what the mayor was referring to?
      Yes, it would be good for the NPA to come out in support of this. Councillor Brenner noted, during the recent Cambie Bridge discussion at council, that he would prefer to see a longer term plan and not have these sorts of improvements come along individually without fitting into such a longer term plan. I hope to see his support for reducing traffic on these streets, given their inclusion for years now in Transportation 2040, exactly the type of long range plan he was asking about.
      The existence of that plan is also a benefit for the businesses in Yaletown. They have the advantage of years of planning on how they can best take advantage of the pedestrian priority investments for the benefit of their businesses and customers.

      1. Indeed Vancouver would benefit tremendously with more pedestrian zones in these areas. Shops would get more business, not less, and more destination traffic from tourists and folks from Fraser Valley and suburbs !
        More people that would shop more and dine & drink more !
        Where’s the joy of sitting outside sipping a glass of wine seeing cars zip by constantly? The noise .. the exhaust .. the ugliness ..

    2. Jeff, I crossed Robson, because I don’t believe it fit in the same category as Mainland, Hamilton and Water.
      One reason is that the bus here has (still) a structuring function (when Water could do as well without a one way bus), but it is not the only one (much wider street with…significant stretch are devoid of any substantial activities), and I regret that the Transportation 2040 plan doesn’t recognize that,: too bad
      Before Robson, they should start by emphasizing pedestrian and bike priority, along transit on Denman, where here too, the sidewalk are much too marrow.
      I am not sure I understand this compulsive obsession from Vision about Robson, when so many other streets are objectively in much need of attention than Robson.

      1. I am not sure I understand your focus on Vision with respect to Transportation 2040. In 2012, the plan passed unanimously, with three parties supporting it.

        1. As Andrew Weaver pointed out, all campaign promises are irrelevant, once a new administration takes the lead.
          Vancouver 2040 is just an idea at that long ago (2012) moment in time.

        2. Except that it wasn’t a campaign promise. It is a long term strategic transportation plan, with metrics, and measured progress towards milestones. It is reported on regularly. It aligns with multiple other long range plans. To refer to as a campaign promise shows a fundamental lack of understanding.

        1. I see one bus and two non-buses. That’s the problem with a transit mall. The number of other vehicles on Granville often exceeds the buses. In any case, even if it were only buses they are still noisy, some are still stinky and they still pose a danger. Creating pedestrian zones is not anti-bus. Mixing buses with general traffic is more harmful.

        2. Granville is horribly boring and far too many stinking diesel buses indeed.
          Robson could be ONE traffic free zone from stadium to Stanley park, as could be several streets around Yaletown .. and as stated above Vancouver would benefit tremendously with more pedestrian zones in these areas. Shops would get more business, not less, and more destination traffic from tourists and folks from Fraser Valley and suburbs !
          More people that would shop more and dine & drink more !

        3. A pedestrian priority street (transport 2040 wording) includes, but is not limited to, “pedestrian only” streets and “transit mall”. It also includes shared spaces (the one in Preston, UK above), and can include other softer design which may or may not include car traffic.
          Since Matt mentions that Robson street is already occasionally closed a couple of block on its eastern side, why not make it permanent for a year as a pilot project…just to verify the Thomas theory?
          PS: on Granville, save for the odd 50, they are only trolley as on Robson….
          Does Ron believes this electric vehicle is also stinky and noisy?
          If there is a lesson people forget to bring from Europe (may be because it is so well done people don’t even notice):
          To be successful, pedestrian zone needs to work in concert with an efficient and attractive transit system, not against it: That is the main reason you see so many pedestrian street shared with transit in Europe, which also demonstrate that the safety argument is just a red herring.

        4. Looks like a tram to me. I thought you didn’t like trams.
          They seem to do a much better job in Zurich of keeping cars off of the tram ROWs. And the location of the vehicle is entirely predictable unlike buses which turn here and there and generally far too often in Vancouver. I’d be much happier sharing a street with a tram than what we have on Granville Mall.

      2. I’ve long thought the Robson bus could move to Alberni to make Robson a true pedestrian street. Add a community shuttle on Nelson to fill the larger gap and restore direct service to the areas of downtown once served by the Robson bus.

      3. that has been a recurring discussion here:
        1/bus route in the downtown are 100+ year old, and those had made the horseshoe (Robson, Denman,Davie) a destination, and if you want transit to be useful you want it to reach its destination. The WestEnd development plan is widely based on the above premise anchoring the high density and retail/commercial development along bus route 5/6 not Robson…
        Each time, you modify a bus route, you modify the bus coverage:
        as a transit agency (and a tax payer), you want to cover the area with the minimum of bus route. Below is how it has been done.
        more here:

        1. Imagine a subway here (basically under W Georgia or Robson, along Davie & Denman) and no more cars ! A walkers (and bikers and mini e-carts shuttles) paradise and skyrocketing business and property values. A true win/win !

        2. Yeah, I’ve thought for a long time that there should be a subway under the West End. There are so many people living there that it could be justified.

  7. The problem with a West End subway loop as Thomas describes it is it’s just too short to be of much use. By the time you walk three times as far to the more infrequent stations and then deal with stairs and escalators you could have just walked downtown or taken a bus. Certainly much faster to ride a bike.
    If it were part of a more extensive line, say to the North Shore and/or extending out of downtown maybe eastward on Hastings and well into Burnaby you’d get some better use out of it. Something to consider in the long term.

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