British Columbia

B.C. union urges cities to grant free short-term parking permit for food app delivery drivers

UFCW 1518 has written to the mayors of Vancouver, Victoria, New Westminster, Burnaby and Kelowna, calling on the cities to grant free parking permits that allow app-based food delivery workers to stop their cars in restricted zones for up to 15 minutes.

Precarious workers' income is undercut by parking fees and potential tickets, UFCW 1518 says

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1518 wants several B.C. municipalities to issue free permits that allow delivery drivers with app-based companies such as UberEats and DoorDash to park in restricted zones for up to 15 minutes. (Bryan Eneas/CBC )

Food delivery driver Shashank Singhania has always tried to park in legal spaces in Vancouver and pay the fees when doing his work.

But he says it's often challenging to find a parking stall that is close to a client's location. In order to provide quick service, he often has to risk stopping in restricted zones — and possibly being fined as a result.

It's a common problem in his line of work, Singhania says — which is why a union is calling on B.C. municipalities to give food delivery workers a free permit that allows them to park in restricted areas for up to 15 minutes.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518) has written to the mayors of Vancouver, Victoria, New Westminster, Burnaby and Kelowna, asking them to adopt a short-term parking permit program for drivers who work with food ordering apps such as Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes and DoorDash, it said in a release on April 22.

"[Food delivery workers] face significant challenges finding free parking when making deliveries," it said.

"The drivers' pay depends on how quickly they can make their deliveries, and expensive parking tickets undercut their already precarious income."

Free permit leads to better service

Singhania has been delivering part time for six months since losing his full-time job. He says he pays around $20 a week in parking charges and those fees aren't reimbursed by the companies he works for.

He says while a parking permit would save delivery workers time and money, it would also improve safety for other road users.

"Without having the sword hanging over their heads, I think [the road] would be much safer because [food delivery] people … won't park awkwardly and put other people in danger," Singhania said. 

"You are basically enabling them to actually provide better service."

Vancouver delivery driver Shashank Singhania says a short-term parking permit would save him and his colleagues time and money, and improve road safety. (Submitted by Shashank Singhania)

Union president Kim Novak says many app-based food delivery workers aren't members of UFCW 1518, but that doesn't stop the organization — which represents more than 25,000 members working in industries such as hospitality and retail across B.C. — from speaking for them about the issue.

"We're trying to…amplify their concerns on their behalf, because we know that it impacts a lot of workers and people who've been driving [with] the app-based employers over these last several months with job loss, or trying to make more money in a very challenging time [during] this pandemic," Novak told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South, on Monday.

Novak says she hasn't received any response from municipalities. 

City of Kelowna parking services manager Dave Duncan says several factors need to be considered before granting delivery drivers a short-term parking permit.

"It's difficult to really look at one specific group and say, 'What can we do for them?' It really needs to be looked at as a whole to make sure that we're treating everyone equally and being fair," Duncan told CBC's Gurpreet Kambo.

Other cities in Canada have also been looking at the issue.

The City of Ottawa offers a "business identity card permit" that allows delivery drivers to park in certain restricted zones for up to 15 minutes for $130 annually.

And the City of Toronto is considering possible changes to delivery and parking regulations given the increasing number of delivery vehicles on city streets.

Tap the link below to hear UFCW 1518 president Kim Novak's interview on Daybreak South:

Food delivery drivers are busy as ever, but they are losing money every shift due to parking tickets. So the United Food and Commercial Workers union is appealing to municipalities to help. We hear from United Food and Commercial Workers Union President Kim Novak. 6:04

With files from Daybreak South, Gurpreet Kambo and Nick Boisvert

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