June 15, 2021

Should You Pay to Park In Front of Your House? City of Vancouver Says Yes.



As part of the Climate Emergency Action Plan presented November 2020, the City of Vancouver released an ambitious”Climate Emergency Parking Program” this week with the intent to encourage electric vehicle purchases, reduce pollution, and of course, to fund the City’s other climate emergency actions. You can take a look at the outline for the program here.

One of the challenges for the initiatives outlined in the Climate Emergency Action Plan is how to fund it all. It has been suggested that charging residents  for the use of every residential  street to park cars could net the City approximately sixty million dollars in a four year period, and it is proposed that that money could go towards electric vehicle charging stations, infrastructure, priority bus routes, green spaces, and conversion of buildings that use natural gas.

Many of these items should already be provided out of Development Cost Levies and Community Amenity Contributions that come to the city when development is approved, so clarity about how this multi-million dollar revenue source would be allocated would be important. There is also no other city in Canada that has charges for parking on every residential street.

In Vancouver, 54 percent of carbon pollution is from the use of natural gas in buildings and 39 percent is from gas and diesel engines. Charging for the use of the public street to park vehicles is by itself a sound idea if it is universally applied and if funds go directly back into items that provide alternatives to vehicular use, like increased transit and  better walking and cycling facilities.

Currently ten percent of the city has some form of parking restrictions. There are residential permit parking areas where residents pay a fee for the right to park in a certain area, and there is residential parking only areas, which are enforced on a complaint basis from residents.

The City’s Emergency Action Parking Team is proposing two fee structures: one is an annual permit of $45.00 a year for residents using the street to park overnight, and  an annual ” dirty fuel tax”  for vehicles purchased from the model year of 2023. All 2023 vehicles and beyond that are not electric or not low polluting will pay an annual tax of $500 to $1,000.

Vehicles for the disabled are exempted from the dirty fuel tax, and parking will be free in the neighbourhoods for visitors until 10:00 p.m., when a three dollar parking fee is proposed for parking from 10:00 p.m. to 7 a.m.

There is an issue of equity: homeowners that are able to park their vehicles on their own property and off the city streets will be exempt from paying the City’s curb tax or the dirty fuel tax if they are driving a gassy brand new SUV.  It is most likely that vehicles parked curbside will be those of renters, shift workers, and those with lower incomes. For workers on a shift bus service may not align with their hours.

One option to solve the equity issue would be to talk to the Province and administer a tax on Vancouver residents’ vehicles through  ICBC car insurance renewal annually. That would mean the City would not have to invest in additional staff and vehicle based licence plate recognition (LPR) equipment. The City currently has a Request for Proposals for three vehicles to be  installed with this equipment, and may go up to 14 vehicles specially equipped to manage the paid parking permit system.

The other issue is of course regional. In Metro Vancouver there is an 18.5 cent a liter gas tax that provides funding for regional transportation investments.  Phased in from 2035  to 2040, there will be no sales of gas powered vehicles in the Province, and that gas tax will need to be replaced by some other mechanism to pay for better regional transit. Will regional road pricing replace the gas tax?

You can learn more about the proposed directions of the Community Emergency Parking Program and take a survey that will be open until July 5 here.

Staff will be collecting input from residents and preparing a report  that will be going to Council for approval this Fall. The residential parking curb and dirty fuel taxes are planned to be enacted in 2023.

The short YouTube video below outlines Vancouver’s proposed residential parking tax systems.



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  1. In my opinion this is a cash grab and an ill conceived one at that.. I have no problem with the idea of charging a vehicle ownership tax but if you are to effect climate change one needs to alter how cars are used – not how they are parked. We need to institute a Provincial Vehicle Miles Travelled Tax if we are serious about Climate Change which again, in my opinion, is an issue beyond the remit of any municipality. A VMT Tax in conjunction with congestion charges would be a fairer approach. What is fair about the fact that those living in less affluent areas will have to pay more for a plumber than the guy with a driveway which can accommodate the tradesman’s truck. Yes it’s minor but nonetheless illustrative of the inequity. The guy with the estate pays a lower cost of ownership on his vehicle and the services he buys than his less affluent fellow citizen across town. This just stinks. I am so sick of COV politicians playing green without actually doing much. Where were they when when the median on Highway One was converted to extra traffic lanes instead of converted to rail or similar? They should have been screaming from the rafters but you could have heard a pin drop. That particular “upgrade” has contributed to the significant increase in congestion I see in my neighbourhood (Grandview Woodland) and charging for parking will not do one iota to change that.

    1. A VKT / VMT regime is a complicated, years-long process that we’re only beginning to wrap our heads around. Most people, and by your comment it seems you are among them, haven’t stopped and considered what a massive logistical undertaking it would be to implement and maintain it. By contrast, a parking fee, though imperfect, is very simple to implement and provides a similar level of fairness. If you own a car, you pay the city extra for the privilege of maintaining its storage space on your behalf.

  2. I don’t understand how the $3 “overnight” fee would apply.

    Does that mean visitors parking on the street must leave dinner parties by 10:00pm or have a decal evidencing payment of the $45 annual fee??
    What about visiting dinner guests who live in Burnaby or Richmond?
    Or is the solution to have the dinner parties outside the City of Vancouver?
    Maybe we’ll see more people on the bus and SkyTrain carrying casserole dishes?

    1. Post

      You will be paying a proposed three dollar charge for your guest to stay anytime between 10 pm and 7 am. You will do that by phone most probably. The City is ordering vehicle license scanning technology for up to 14 vehicles that will patrol the neighbourhood monitoring parked vehicles license plates.

  3. A sound policy in theory but I agree that there should be no exemption for property owners with driveways. Presuming they receive deliveries and the occasional driving visitor as those without driveways, they should foot the same bill. If you own a car in Vancouver, you should pay more for the maintenance of the curbside storage space than those without a car.

    1. I think the resident parking permit makes sense, but all the rest of this rather silly.

      The city essentially wants to have it’s own carbon tax on top of the provincial one. The obvious solution is just to set the provincial on at an appropriate level, and tell the other levels of government to buzz off. This is obvious duplication of efforts. Carbon pollution west of Boundary Rd. is worth the exact same as carbon pollution east of it.

      The overnight guest thing also comes off as a pointless waste of effort. It’s the period of time where the city doesn’t even bother to bill for it’s meters because of low demand. This is not an in demand period of time for most parts of the city. There’s much easier ways to get at people who try to dodge the permits. Drivers are already required by law to register at their current address within 90 days. The just need to enforce that if they’re implement mandatory permits to vehicles registered in the city.

      The people parking early morning and late at night for early or late shifts are affected for no apparent reason. This demographic are also the ones who are arguably worst served by public transit, and are using the roads/parking spaces at low demand times.

      I’ve worked quite a few early shift jobs or grave yards. My current role gets me to work on vacant roads in about 10 minutes. Transit is in excess of 1.5 hours because of poor early morning and late night service. Any OT basically puts me outside of night-bus service hours.

      If the municipality I currently work in adopted similar policies (commuting from Vancouver), I might be subject to parking permit requirements just because of working hours, not because of actual demand the roads.

      Vancouver hardly enforces its current policies without complaints, so they clearly just want this for the money.

      1. The “let’s wait for the province / federal government to provide the perfect solution” approach has never worked. Just ask any homeless advocate. The City can’t wait for Victoria to pull perfection from the ether. It must act.

        1. The province in this case is at least 14 years ahead of the city, with plans to continue to escalate the carbon tax in the future. There’s a reason why they didn’t just say alright, $200/tonne and done.

          The city’s response is pretty slow on a number of items. EVs have been commercially available since 2009, and yet charging infrastructure is still pretty sparse, with no widespread plans on the horizon.

          The last couple of years they’ve also included a number of charges that actually discourage EV adoption, including charging a rather high rate for city owned chargers. I have a PHEV, which is to say it can use both electricity or gas. Using a city charger actually costs more money than gas, because they charge $2/hr. During that hour I can only receive about $0.30 of electricity. The equivalent amount of gas would be marginally cheaper, even at $1.60/L. The 600% markup on power doesn’t really indicate the city being very encouraging.

  4. It is not apparent that charging ‘car polluters’ will result in an over all reduction in carbon emissions in the city of Vancouver. The city has provided zero analysis to illustrate the thesis that charging fees after 2023 on IC powered vehicles will reduce carbon emissions over all. Zero analysis. And even if it can be proven beneficial, the idea of spending the fees generated on projects that invariably produce even more carbon emissions rather cancels the idea altogether.
    We have reached the tipping point on emissions. Every needless emission from now on is another nail in the proverbial coffin. So if we want to make a difference we need to be realistic and consider actions that are actually measurably beneficial

  5. It is not the Environment that the City of Vancouver council and mayor care about. It is about finding creative ways to tax residents of Vancouver to cover their salaries and to continue giving themselves more raises and perks without any accountability to anyone.
    If they can charge us for breathing in Vancouver, they would not hesitate to do that.
    public opinion would not matter as long as it would affect their chances of getting reelected.
    how many people elected to the council have the faintest idea about the environment?

  6. City wide parking meters is what this is but without the flexibility of tailoring price to demand. It seems like a great incentive to change city council . I know it will motivate me to vote against anyone who supports it.

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