Pay parking has come to part of Fort Langley, with the shopping plaza that stretches between Glover Road and Church Street adding electronic pay kiosks earlier in May.
The change was made over the Victoria Day long weekend and is one of the first pay parking zones in Langley outside of the hospital and the university campuses.
Eric Woodward said the board of the Fort Langley Project, which includes the Eric Woodward Foundation, decided to try pay parking to solve ongoing issues with parking at the shopping centre.
“It will be reviewed every 30 days throughout the summer and fall based on community feedback and input,” Woodward said. “The board has already made some changes based on that, such as 20 minutes free, and would like to work something out for local residents too, if we can.”
The concern was that over the years, parking spaces were being used by staff from other local businesses, often parking all day, Woodward said.
“This means it was impossible to ensure parking availability for the businesses there, hurting them,” Woodward said. “The board finally had to do something.”
He said the pay parking is expected to increase turnover and see more people coming and going, thus providing a benefit to local businesses.
Fort Langley is well known for having relatively little parking, and Woodward mentioned that its parking woes are ultimately a sign of its success, as more and more people want to visit.
He said other businesses in the area have generated big demand without adding any more parking.
“Larger sites can provide parking for staff, at least,” he said. “We need a more balanced outlook and perspective than we have currently.”
Woodward has advocated in the past for developing some of the properties owned by his foundation and the Fort Langley Project into denser, higher buildings that could have underground parking. Such projects have been controversial.
Reception of the pay meters has been mixed, Woodward said.
“It’s a change no one really likes, including the board, but it had no choice.”
He said parking validation could be an option in the future, and the board will continue to review the parking issue.
A substantial portion of parking proceeds will be reinvested in streetscape improvements, such as flower baskets, Woodward said.
Back in 2017, Langley Township considered making some on-street parking in the Fort paid, but a study recommended against it.
The study looked at adding pay parking with two-hour maximums from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The capital cost for the equipment needed would have been $50,000 to $100,000, and an additional $250,000 in operating costs annually. Since the revenue would have been well below $250,000, the Township didn’t move forward with the idea.