During the pandemic, local residents have turned to Metro Vancouver’s regional parks as safe outlets for connecting with nature and exercising with others while physical distancing. Regional parks saw 16.5 million visits during 2020 — an increase of 38% from 2019 (11.9 million visits). This visitation increase brought new challenges to managing capacity, mostly in parking lots.
Metro Vancouver staff utilize various management tools to address demand. Operational solutions include traffic control, parking lot closures and shuttle busses. Communications solutions include roadside message boards, social media, patrols and education.
This spring, a new approach will be implemented at Belcarra and Lynn Headwaters regional parks, where parking lots fill early each day and vehicle access issues cause tension between park users and neighbours. As a demand management strategy, seasonal pay parking of $2 per hour is being introduced at these parks. Pay parking will come into effect from March 29 until October 31 at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, and from April 1 until September 30 at Belcarra Regional Park.
Pay parking is never a popular approach, but it can help limit length of stay, increase turnover, as well as promote carpooling, transit use and cycling. Parking revenues also help offset the substantial costs of managing traffic. Metro Vancouver will continue to use all available demand management tools across the system to alleviate problems related to parking capacity and ensure continued enjoyment of regional parks by all. The goal is to reduce the number of cars, not the number of visitors.