Belcarra has made all parking in the village permit only after a spike in visitor parking during the COVID-19 pandemic led to safety concerns as non-residents flocked to the area to enjoy its natural surroundings.
The motion, passed last week, means that from now until the temporary amendment expires on Oct. 31 all street parking will remain in the hands of residents and guests holding valid passes. And visitors looking to break the rules will be in for a heftier fine too.
The problem started when the province moved into its phase 2 reopening of the province, according to council. First, it was Port Moody which noticed a spike in visitors to Sasamat Lake, so that by May 15, the city had installed temporary no parking signs along nearby Bedwell Bay Road where many beach-goers had found overflow parking.
But that measure only served to push traffic into neighbouring Belcarra, according to council.
“It’s through the roof. We’ve never had issues with traffic, speeding, stunting, illegal turns,” Belcarra mayor Neil Belenkie told the Tri-City News, adding that by mid-May, when people increasingly looked to the outdoors, “We found people were happy to pay the price and block traffic.”
And as the weather improved with the march towards summer, Belenkie said that demand was only expected to grow. So in addition to the blanket ban on visitor parking, the village will triple fines to scofflaw parkers.
“It’s part of being a destination municipality. We get it,” he said. “But there’s a Metro Van parking lot right there [at Belcarra Regional Park]… We’re trying to protect residents and visitors.”
Some councillors at the latest virtual meeting expressed concern that the move would unduly lead to fines against residents of the village who have had to endure confusing changes to the village’s parking regime over the years.
But mayor Neil Belenkie said the new bylaw amendments would be accompanied by an education campaign and some leniency towards residents.
“The intent is not to be punishing residents. But if residents continue to break the law, we can’t carve out a separate parking structure for them,” Belenkie answered concerns put forward by Coun. Carolina Clark.
And while others implored fellow councillors to “not forget that we are a village,” in the end, the motion was passed without any dissent.