A White Rock man concerned that congested street parking is creating safety issues for residents and emergency crews alike wants the city to do more to enforce its parking regulations.
Steve Holroyd said he also wants to see curbs in front of residential buildings painted yellow, to ensure there is space reserved for emergency access.
Holroyd says the latter move is particularly important when there are multiple construction projects underway within close proximity that result in street parking being clogged with workers’ vehicles.
He says this is the case in his neighbourhood, bordered by North Bluff Road, Everall Street, Thrift Avenue and Oxford Street, where he’s seen firefighters and paramedics have to double-park on North Bluff to respond to emergencies, and even load patients in the face of oncoming traffic.
“All it would take is for one guy walking around that fire truck and somebody talking on a cellphone (while driving) and, whammo. That would be a shame,” he said. “At the rate of speed people are travelling, something is going to happen and I don’t want to see that.”
Holroyd, who recently moved to the area from South Surrey, said he has been trying for weeks to get the city to address the issue.
Karen Cooper, the city’s director of planning and development services, said Monday that she wasn’t aware specifically of Holroyd’s concern, but noted that due to staffing resources, the city’s parking and bylaw officers respond to such issues on a complaint basis.
Cooper said that in the past year, she has spoken to just three people concerned about parking; none in the past month.
She also said consultation with White Rock’s fire chief did not identify any concerns.
“We do what we have to do,” Chief Phil Lemire told Peace Arch News. “If we have to block a lane of traffic, we block a lane of traffic.”
At the same time, Cooper acknowledged, new construction can create concern for residents.
“The reality is, when there is new development going in, there will be increased traffic during the period of construction,” Cooper said.
She noted the city is working on a good-neighbour policy to determine how best to deal with the impacts that come with a major construction project.
“I think we’ve learned from the projects we have (that) some improvements could be made,” she said. “I think we’re sympathetic to residents’ concerns and trying to make some improvements to our existing practices.”
Cooper noted that with major projects – such as that underway on the Evergreen Baptist campus on Oxford Street – the city requires the developer to come up with a parking plan to accommodate construction. That can include partnering with an area church for use of space for overflow parking, she said.
With the start of the Cressey development “imminent” on Vidal Street, Cooper noted a plan was not required as on-street parking is permitted in the area.
Holroyd is not the only one with concerns.
Sundial Apartments manager Irene Fairweather told PAN she first raised the issue with the city more than a decade ago, after watching paramedics park and load patients in the traffic lane.
“I kept thinking this is going to be a disaster someday,” she said.
She gave up about five years ago, she said, because “I wasn’t getting any results.”
Since then, the issue has worsened, she said. She posted a sign about six months ago indicating space in front of the Sundial is for authorized vehicles only; it is often ignored, she noted.
“It’s been a real concern for me,” Fairweather said. “I’m hoping that (Holroyd is) going to be successful.”