Port Moody eyes hiking fines as park area overwhelmed with vehicles

It could soon cost you a lot more if you park illegally along Bedwell Bay Road to walk into Belcarra Regional Park.

Tuesday, Port Moody council’s committee of the whole will consider an amendment to its parking bylaw that will raise the fine for parking in contravention of traffic control devices or approved signs to $100 from $50. The discounted fine, if the ticket is paid within 30 days, would go up from $25 to $50.

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The city banned parking along the roadway beginning in mid-May.

That could bring some relief for residents who expressed their dismay on social media last weekend over the throngs of vehicles parking along the single access road into the village of Belcarra after Metro Vancouver closed vehicle access to the picnic area as well as White Pine Beach and Sasamat Lake by 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

“Crazy packed today,” said one post on Facebook, describing the conditions at White Pine Beach.

“When we arrived at 8 a.m., the beach was already insanely busy,” said another post on Twitter. “There was little-to-no social distancing going on.”

 

 

Steve Schaffrick, a division manager of regional parks for Metro Vancouver’s central area that includes Belcarra, said last weekend’s sunshine and warm temperatures definitely brought out the crowds. But, he added, it’s hard to describe the park as overcrowded.

“We don’t have a capacity,” Schaffrick told The Tri-City News. “It’s a bit of a subjective thing.”

Schaffrick said Metro Vancouver tries to work with the municipalities where regional parks are located to implement a variety of initiatives that discourage crowds from getting out of hand during the current COVID-19 pandemic, like parking regulations and enforcement.

“What is disturbing is the clear disregard for those parking restrictions,” he said.

Port Moody city manager Tim Savoie said 109 parking violation tickets were issued along Bedwell Bay Road last Sunday, along with 74 on Saturday and only two on Friday. Those numbers could still vary, as hand-written tickets are entered into the city’s computer system.

Savoie said that compares to the record 140 tickets that were written on July 4. 

He added bylaw enforcement officers requested more than a dozen vehicles be towed last weekend, but only five or six were actually impounded because of a shortage of available tow trucks.

Schaffrick said Metro Vancouver will bolster efforts to discourage crowds from flocking to its parks by increasing staff to monitor those crowds from the 12 that are currently assigned to all areas of Belcarra park on a typical summer weekend. As well, the messaging on its social media channels will be changing from asking people to find different ways to access the park when vehicle lots are full to discouraging them from coming at all when there's no more room in the parking lots.

“We are desperately wanting to keep the park open,” Schaffrick said. “We’re hoping the public will take things responsibly.”

 

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