07 February 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Wanyee Li

Yaletown businesses outraged over loss of parking

It’s difficult to find parking in Yaletown and it’s about to get even tougher.

The City of Vancouver plans to remove between 60 to 80 parking spots from the two heritage streets, Hamilton and Mainland, in order to ensure fire trucks can access the neighbourhood when there is an emergency. Those two streets currently have about 200 parking and loading spots, according to the city.

City staff say they will be able to add back about 40 parking spaces in city-owned parking lots and nearby streets.

But the sudden lack of storefront parking will be a huge loss to members, said the Yaletown Business Improvement Association.

“Our businesses are shocked and feeling really disrespected. They’re also really worried. When you have an area that is as busy and vibrant as ours, it’s proof that it works,” said Annette O'Shea, executive director of the Yaletown BIA.

“Why would we remove a method of transportation?”

The city’s fire department says it has long needed more space in Yaletown to maneuverer its trucks and set up equipment during an emergency. The current parking situation means it’s a struggle for firefighters every time they attend a call in Yaletown, said Vancouver Fire and Rescue spokesperson, Jonathan Gormick.

“We cross our fingers, we use our horn,” he said.

“We’ve just been very, very lucky that we haven’t had a situation where our arrival has been delayed to the point of causing problems or exasperating someone’s injuries or hindering someone’s rescue.”

The Yaletown fire hall has seen a “drastic” increase in call volume, Gormick added, although he was not able to comment on the nature of those calls. About 65 to 70 per cent of calls to the fire department are medical and the rest are fires, he said.

The city’s current plan, which it will implement in March, is to remove almost all the angled parking spots on Hamilton and Mainland streets next to the raised sidewalk. The Yaletown BIA wants the city to consider taking away the parallel parking spots on the opposite side of the street instead.

But Gormick says city staff have already modeled all the other options and this was the only one that would work.

“This was a last resort."

The head of Vancouver’s transportation department says he understands business owners’ frustration about the changes, but that the loss of storefront parking in other areas has not caused neighbourhoods to lose vibrancy.

“Particularly in downtown, where a lot of the people are getting around not by vehicle, where we have removed [parking] spaces, generally we haven’t heard a lot of negative impacts,” said Paul Storer.

He cited the construction of the Hornby bike lane in 2010, when storeowners on that street expressed concern about how replacing parking spots with a bike lane would hurt their business.

“We worked with the [Downtown] BIA over the years. They now support building that kind of infrastructure.”

But Oshea says the lack of consultation from the city is a sign staff are not interested in what businesses want.

“It shows a lack of understanding. They don’t understand what it takes to run a business in this city. I didn’t vote for this.”

Storer says the city is finalizing an info session for Yaletown residents and business owners that will take place in two weeks.

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