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Parking Sign Problems

Permit/Pay Parking Confusion Continues

A group of hikers stood clustered around the second of two white Teslas, parked in a 'permit required' area of Mountain Drive on a sunny Sunday morning.

"It's almost $200," gasped one hiker, plucking the ticket from under a wiper.

A second hiker grabbed the ticket from her hand. "Only $100 if you pay it right away."

"But the sign says 'permit parking', replied the first. "I paid for a permit – I have the receipt on my phone. And besides," she paused and pointed to the identical vehicle parked directly in front of her car. "How come they didn't get a ticket?"

The car in front, of course, sported a Lions Bay resident permit.

And there it is. The distinction between 'permit' parking and 'pay' parking is not always a clear one, at least in the mind of the early-morning hiker, eager for a glimpse of that famous Tunnel Bluffs view.

Back in May, The Watershed spoke to several residents of Mountain and Sunset Drives, at the onset of hiking season. At the time, there was a callout to Council for the "long-overdue" formation of a parking committee. Three months on, has anything changed?

"I've spoken to several hikers over the past year who purchased parking, and parked in Permit Only spots, and were very surprised when I told them they were parked illegally and would get ticketed," says Christine Little, who lives on Mountain Drive. "There is a very simple solution to this problem – the signage needs to indicate RESIDENT Permit Parking. I was told by Works in mid-May that there would be new signs that would clarify the regulation, but I haven't seen any changes."

While this situation is undoubtedly adding to Village coffers, it's just one of the hiking-related problems facing Council and staff.

"I have noticed cars with tickets up on Sunset," says Rebecca Caspersen, a resident who is also a member of the village hiking community. "But my issue continues to be the people parking by the fire hydrant."

One long-time resident of Sunset is incensed by the increase in traffic along the once-quiet street. "Residents are selling space in their driveways, and even parking permits to hikers. The traffic is unbelievable."

Every resident who spoke to The Watershed for this article was eager to see the formation of a parking committee. But in the absence of any action, many residents of Mountain, Sunset and Bayview –at least the ones not selling Village parking passes – approach the influx of hikers each successive weekend with concern.

Of course, this situation is not unique to Lions Bay. The Deep Cove neighbourhood of North Vancouver has long struggled with hiker parking overload. And on June 19, District of North Vancouver Councillor Lisa Muri asked for the support of her fellow council members to request a comprehensive traffic plan to limit traffic in Deep Cove.

Muri noted that she herself grew up in Deep Cove, and that the Quarry Rock hike is one of the top five tourist attractions in the region. She said that traditionally there has been a desire not to constrict the volume of tourist traffic in the area, "but these places are also residential neighbourhoods, and the communities are affected."

"The challenge for the neighbourhood is watching that stream of cars driving around and around the block, hoping to find that coveted parking spot." Her description of the situation echoes concerns expressed by residents here in Lions Bay.

Muri cited Horseshoe Bay as an example of a place where this doesn't happen, saying the parking in that neighbourhood is designated 'Resident Only' or restricted to time-limited commercial spots.

Muri called asked her district staff to "think outside the box" and look at traffic-limiting options that are being piloted in nearby municipalities, including real-time reservation apps, shuttle buses and alternative transportation methods. North Van District Council supported her motion.

Back in Lions Bay, there’s still no parking committee. And the hikers who received the ticket on their Tesla shrugged it off, in the end. "We'll split the cost between us," said one of the group to the driver. "It's not that bad when you divide it four ways."

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Beyond the issue of early morning hikers misunderstanding the distinction between "Permit Required" and "Pay Parking", we live in a multicultural society where English is commonly not a person's first language. The intent of the parking signage could definitely (and easily) be made more clear. As a community, we can do better in communicating our expectations to the visitors to the Village.

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