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Council looks to help Willoughby’s parking problems

Township council will look at each upcoming development application to see if more parking can be found.
Township council recognized that parking in Willoughby is a huge hot button topic for residents living there. They are looking at each upcoming development proposal to see if parking can be expanded.

Before the Township begins a review of its parking bylaws later this year, some members of council are making an attempt to address parking issues in Willoughby now, one development application at a time.

At Township council’s last meeting before the summer break, Coun. Angie Quaale asked that a proposal for 48 town homes at 20451 84 Ave. be referred back to staff to have the number of parking stalls increased.

Despite the proponent meeting the minimum requirements of the bylaw — 113 parking stalls, including 48 double-wide residential spaces, 55 tandem residential spaces and 10 visitor spaces — Quaale says what the bylaw requires is not enough.

“I am not supportive at all with the parking situation here,” she said.

“We have eight separate buildings with 10 visitor stalls total, that’s 1.25 stalls per building for visitors, and half of the parking stalls in this building are tandem … I hope council recognizes the importance of the change to the parking bylaw.”

Coun. Bob Long disagreed, claiming it is not fair to “pick on” just one developer.

“The bylaw is specific as to how many parking spaces are required in the development, and the developer meets it. I agree if we want to have a holistic discussion and make some amendments in the parking bylaw moving forward, fine. But I can’t see that we can just piecemeal it one at a time.”

Coun. Charlie Fox noted that with the close proximity of the development to the Carvolth Exchange, those who live in these new homes should be taking transit.

“I think we need to encourage people to actually use transit,” Fox said.

“It is available close at hand here. We know the 555 bus is very popular. We know that people are looking, and in fact they are selling … these developments out very quickly for people that are looking for housing and using that transit exchange. I think we need to discourage parking and encourage walkability in these areas for people using the TransLink bus exchange.”

Quaale said she would also like to see more people use transit, but the lack of options in Langley makes that difficult.

“There’s nowhere within reasonable walking distance where you can carry groceries for a family of three back to your house or your townhouse,” she said.

“You still need a car. There is no community shuttle, there is no Uber, unfortunately. So people are still very reliant on cars, and until we get to a place where TransLink is providing more reliable bus service to Carvolth … then people can put their kayaks in the garage and park three scooters in the driveway. But that’s not what we’re building for today, we don’t have transit today.”

Coun. Blair Whitmarsh said that in the past when council has asked developers to go beyond the minimum parking requirements, they have seen great success.

“We know that probably the biggest complaint of this whole area is around parking, so let’s address it and make it right and make it a good community for people to live in,” he said.

Both councillors Kim Richter and Petrina Arnason agreed, saying the Township needs to be proactive.

“We know there is … a major parking issue in Willoughby. And I agree with them, if we have to do it piecemeal until such time as we get an overall bylaw adjustment, then we have to do it piecemeal,” Richter said.

The issue of parking also came up earlier in the meeting during discussions about a development permit application for 24 row homes in the 20400 block of 86 Avenue.

Although councillors were only able to comment on the form, siting and character of this proposal, Quaale did voice her unhappiness with the parking provided.