News Local

Parents left out of Vancouver’s parking priorities

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

(Tonygers/Getty Images)

(Tonygers/Getty Images)

Looking for a parking spot in downtown Vancouver with two screaming children in the backseat of your SUV is a frustrating experience at best. Then, just when you spot one that seems free, you start to turn in only to realize the spot is marked “small car only” or, better yet, reserved for electric vehicles. The number of these special spaces has increased over the past couple years. According to the City of Vancouver’s communications coordinator for sustainability, Dhaneva Panday, there are now “approximately 40 parking spaces set aside for EV charging only across the city – these include curbside, community centre, city hall and park locations.”

Of course, this trend is occurring with the street parking spots that haven’t already been usurped by bike lanes or converted into Mobi bike share stations.

The Fraser Valley has a different strategy when it comes to parking spots. The first time I pulled into a community centre lot, I almost squealed with excitement when I spotted the several spots for new and expectant parents right out front. In Vancouver, according to Panday, “Expectant mother parking isn’t a class of motorist/passenger that we designate parking for specifically.”

Parents of young children have unique challenges when it comes to maneuvering in and out of a vehicle. They often have to drag a stroller out of the trunk and leave it parked behind their car while they lift their small children out of the car. Creating parking spaces that are reserved for this purpose helps these parents immensely. A little bit of extra room goes a long way in this scenario.

Preschoolers too old for a stroller but small enough that they might not be seen by other drivers also benefit from having an extra cushion around the car and being close to doorways, and yet most families and expectant mothers would not apply for or in many cases qualify for a disability hang tag through the Social Policy and Research Council of B.C.

Yet, the City of Vancouver, in its nauseating pursuit of the “Greenest City 2020” title, keeps adding hybrid spots, forcing other drivers to circle the block (ironically while burning unnecessary gas) on the hunt for another space.

The preferential parking spaces also send a strong message about who is welcome, wanted and worthy in the city’s eyes. Electric vehicle drivers can pull up right outside MEC and waltz in without worry. Families, on the other hand, may have trouble steering a minivan into those tight spaces and give up in frustration.

If we really want to create an inclusive city, let’s think about including parents in our parking priorities.