Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Parking at Walnut Grove Community Centre

We’ve known for years that you can’t build your way out of congestion. More “free” roads beget more congestion. This fact has been known since the mid-twenty century, but it took until the twenty-first century before politicians and decision-makers started to clue into this fact. This is why today Metro Vancouver’s local governments are advocating for road pricing as a way to reduce congestion.

Transit in Metro Vancouver charges a higher fare during peak periods as a way to manage demand and encourage people to travel outside of peak demand periods.

Parking planning today follows the same principles of highway building in the twenty century. If you have a parking shortage, simply building more parking. Of course research, mostly done in the last few decades, has shown that you can’t build your way out of a parking shortage without destroying the urban framework of community. Large surface parking eroded the economic potential of land and destroys walkability.

Just like roads, research has shown that the best way to manage parking is to use the power of the free-market; price parking based on the demand.

Some communities have been using paid parking since the mid-twenty century to manage parking. Other communities like Surrey are just starting to manage parking demand. Sadly some communities like Langley balk at the idea of managing parking even though demand outpaces supply at times in some parts of the community.

I’ve posted about how the Township could manage parking in certain residential areas in the past, but I know that many on council won’t touch these ideas due to the perceived political risk involved. What really has me scratching my head is that the Township is planning to pave over green space at Walnut Grove Community Centre to expand its parking lot. According to an article in the Langley Times, “I agree with you that there is a shortage of parking at the centre, particularly at peak times on weekdays around [9 a.m.] and then again once school gets out in the afternoon.”

A better solution would be to look at managing the current parking supply as opposed to simple build more parking lot which has environmental and economic consequences, and will only be a short-term fix. There are many ways to manage parking at the community centre from providing parking passes for actual users to introducing paid parking during the two peak periods of the day.

Parking takes up a lot of space in the City and Township of Langley. Where I live, two storeys of my building are for cars and three storeys are people. I have to wonder if Langley is being built for cars or for people. There are many ways to manage parking, but it seems that Langley is still suck in a twenty century mindset of trying to build your way out of the problem. Hopefully it won't take Langley until 2050 to figure out how to manage parking.


Blair said...


You appear to disregard the critical feature in raising parking rates and that is that it prices out the lowest income earners from the equation.

The point of the Walnut Grove Recreation Center is to provide education (library) and recreation services to a community. Many of these services are predominantly aimed at middle and lower income families. By increasing parking rates you simply price to lower income families out of the equation.

You will, however, make it easier for richer families who can afford the parking to find a pace to park, but is that really the effect you are looking for?

Nathan Pachal said...

Do you have research that shows paid parking hurts low-income families.

Blair said...


Are you kidding? 150 years of economic theory, the whole supply/demand curve, is prefaced on the idea. The links you provided before relished in the idea that by increasing parking prices you can drive out users who are unwilling or UNABLE to pay the costs.

You want easily available parking at Walnut Grove? Make the parking rate $50/hr and there will always be parking available. Needless to say the poor who cannot afford the cost will stay away in droves.

Nathan Pachal said...

Clearly you going to the extreme. If we have communities that support walking and support transit, low income families would not be forced to own a car. And parking rates from 25 cents to a dollar or two per hour can manage demand.