News Local

Surrey parking in chaos

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Surrey city hall is trying to fix the community's parking issues. (FILE PHOTO)

Surrey city hall is trying to fix the community's parking issues. (FILE PHOTO)

The residential parking situation is so chaotic in some Surrey neighbourhoods that city hall is steering towards a strategy of bylaw changes, expanded parking and even fines to tackle the challenge.

The most contentious of the changes is a bylaw Coun. Tom Gill is promising to enact by the fall election that would require 50% of new townhome units to have driveways that allow side-by-side parking.

As it stands, he said, many townhouse developments use “tandem parking” — a single-lane situation where the outer car in the driveway is always blocking the car further inside.

This means most families who have more than one car, in order to avoid blocking themselves in, tend to park their extra vehicles on the street, in visitors’ spots, or in lanes.

Surrey transportation manager Jaime Boan said in 2013, 15 of 22 approved townhouse developments had 70% tandem parking.

The city is also aware that some townhouse owners have converted garages illegally into living areas, which again reduces parking space, and could be subject to fines.

In the East Clayton neighbourhood, he said, the situation’s so bad that city hall has decided to allow parking on both sides of the street — which severely restricts the road to just one car passing at a time, creating a situation similar to what’s seen in many Vancouver side streets.

Additionally, many in that neighbourhood are renting out basements or coachhouses, sometimes even breaking the city’s bylaw that only allows one secondary suite per single-family home.

“That’s where the $1,000 fine comes in,” Boan said of the penalty for illegally renting out secondary, or tertiary suites.

Bob de Wit, Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association CEO, said Gill’s bylaw is a bad idea that could increase the price of affected townhomes by $100,000 each.

“If the market wanted these side-by-side parking spots and they wanted to pay $100,000 more per unit, they would exist because our builders would build them,” he said.

Not all developers agree. Rick Johal, president of Zenterra Developments Ltd., said council would be wise to use the bylaw in areas that aren’t served by frequent transit, but allow tandem parking elsewhere.

He said tandem-parking units were popular around 2007-2008 during the economic recession when developers saw it as a solution to housing affordability.

“In the last year or two, I would say 2012-13, a lot of the sites have started to increase the number of double-wide units because of the parking issue,” Johal said.


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