Vancouver parking rates, a rebuttal.

I received this email from a friend:

I was parking on Cypress street just north of Burrard.  I looked at the meter and it said $2 for 80 minutes.  After I put in my money the meter read 1 20…I assumed the timing of my visit was in a better rated time slot and I got 120 minutes.  But is is reading 1hr and 20 min….this is very misleading (possibly deliberately so).  Really, it should read 80 minutes to match the posted rates.  I am not the only one who noticed this as there some other people at the same Xmas gathering I was at that also got tickets thinking they has 120 minutes.  $35.00 – Merry Christmas to you too!  There is nothing more irritating than doing your best to obey the law and pay what’s due and be mislead in this way.  This should definitely be corrected…the meters should say 80 minutes such that they match the posted rates and not deceptively as 1 20.

I was also dismayed to learn that you have already quietly cancelled the first-ticket grace on Dec. 4.  I understand there was a notice in the Vancouver Courier…what about the Sun or the Province?  I had actually read that this had been proposed along with a rate increase and time extension for downtown parking but had know idea that you people had already slid it into effect.  A bit slimy in my opinion.

I would also like to express my opposition to the expansion of metered hours from 8 PM to 10 PM.  I think that it is despicable that because you have mismanaged the budget you feel you have to punish the rest of us.  I want you to know that it will not be forgotten by this constituent in the next election.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to your response.

I’m going to respectfully disagree with this for a number of reasons.

  1. By law, the City of Vancouver cannot run a deficit. Now I don’t think that makes much sense – other levels of government and corporations don’t restrict themselves so, there are sound economic reasons when you might want the ability to go into the red, etc – but until the law is changed, that’s the reality. Thus to meet the current budget shortfall you will have to either raise taxes and user fees (such as parking rates), or slash services – which are already being slashed to the bone. I won’t shed much of a tear for the Petting Zoo or the Bloedel Conservatory, but I do care about the loss of services at libraries and community centres that affect low-income earners disproportionately, doubly so given the current economic climate. So if you are not prepared to increase revenue, you’ll have cut spending more than it has already. And just what, specifically, would you cut?
  2. I personally support encouraging public transit use through mechanisms such as parking rates and tolls. For a cities with restrictive geographies such as Vancouver, this is a necessity. London charges a congestion tax, for example. Yeah, that’s me, but I don’t like breathing smog.
  3. Yes, you can point to things – the Olympic Village springs to mind – and cry “mismangement”, but current budget shortfall is really all about the collapse of global credit lending. Unlike other Lower Mainland municipalities, a large portion of the CoV’s revenue is from building permits and when credit dried up so did building starts, and so did Vancouver’s revenue.
  4. Re: the loss of first ticket grace, I’ll turn it over to this Allen Garr column 
  5. There are different kinds of meters in use throughout the City, and granted I don’t use them very often, but I’ve never been personally confused by the time. There is usually a “:” separately hours from minutes (photo). Perhaps yours was broken.
  6. As for the Sun/Province, I note these article in the Sun from just a cursory search: One from March 19, and one from December 2nd

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