British Columbia

Yaletown businesses outraged over plans to remove up to 80 parking spots for fire-truck access

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association says it wasn't consulted about City of Vancouver plans to remove dozens of parking spots on what the fire service calls "problematic" streets.

'There's been no consultation whatsoever,' says BIA executive director

The busy Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver will lose angled parking along Mainland and Hamilton streets to make way for firetrucks. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association is crying foul over dozens of parking spots the area stands to lose so that fire trucks have more room to get through. 

The BIA's executive director, Annette O'Shea, says the City of Vancouver's plans to get rid of angled parking along a five-block stretch of Mainland and Hamilton streets — removing between 60 and 80 spaces — came as a shock.  

"Absolutely devastating," O'Shea said of the impact the lost parking will have on businesses in the area.

"You start taking away methods of transportation … all of a sudden Yaletown's closed."

Parallel parking will still be available on one side of the streets.

Flower shop owner Marie Oyama says her customers and delivery trucks rely on parking in front of her shop in Yaletown. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)

Marie Oyama, the owner of Divine Vines Flowers on Mainland Street, says her customers often need parking to pick up large arrangements. 

"I think it's going to have a tremendous impact on us," Oyama said. "That's a lot of spaces to lose."

She added that her delivery trucks need to park in front of her shop several times a day. 

Major safety issue 'only a matter of time'

Vancouver Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jonathan Gormick said removing the angled parking spots will improve access for fire trucks and other equipment on the narrow roads of the neighbourhood, which is seeing an increase in density and emergency calls.

​"Those streets have been problematic for some time because they're heritage streets and they're narrow to begin with," Gormick said.

"It's really only a matter of time before it's going to cause a major safety issue." 

Vancouver Fire and Rescue says fire trucks have limited access on Yaletown's narrow roads. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

O'Shea said she understands that firefighters have trouble getting through the narrow roads. But she says the city and the fire department have kept mum about their plans until now.

"There's been no consultation whatsoever. The residents don't know what's going on, businesses don't know what's going on," she said. 

'Slash-and-burn mentality'

One solution O'Shea said the BIA would like to see is to get rid of the parallel parking on the other side of the street instead.

"We know we're going to lose some parking. We totally accept that we're going to lose some parking," she said.

"But to have this slash-and-burn mentality of we're going to lose all the parking, it's totally unacceptable."

Gormick said the city looked at that option, along with several others, but it just didn't provide enough space. 

"Engineering studied this extensively. Getting rid of the parking was not the first idea they came up with," he said.

Gormick said the city engineering department is trying to work with the BIA to find ways to replace the lost parking on other nearby streets like Davie or Drake. 

The city and fire department will hold a public consultation on the matter on Feb. 22, 2-8 p.m., at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

Gormick said he expects the spots to be gone by about March.

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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