Aaron Hinks photo                                Server Hailey Bradford has found a parking spot.

Aaron Hinks photo Server Hailey Bradford has found a parking spot.

Marine Drive pay-parking frustration unites strangers

South Surrey woman connects with White Rock resident to rent parking stall.

South Surrey resident Hailey Bradford has found a creative way to avoid paying for parking on White Rock’s Marine Drive.

Bradford, a server at Sandbar Bistro, posted a plea online last month asking White Rock residents if they would rent her a parking stall during her shifts.

“I have in the last week accumulated $60 in parking tickets and spend some $30 on parking before the tickets. I intend to go out and feed the meter but when it gets super busy there is just no time,” she wrote on the moderated Facebook group, If You Live in South Surrey/White Rock.

“If anyone has an extra spot within 10 min walking distance I would happily pay.”

The post generated dozens of comments from residents. Several people offered to help Bradford, while others were critical of White Rock’s pay-parking system – particularly for waterfront employees.

“I cannot even wrap my head around that the city of White Rock cannot hand out free parking decals for those who work at the beach. There should be a solution. You are not earning millions down there. This is pathetic,” writes Sabine Edrissi.

Dianne Grimmer wished Bradford luck in her efforts.

“The City of White Rock has always been nasty about parking – they absolutely don’t care about workers, shoppers or diners on the waterfront. My opinion was formed years ago when they sent my unfair parking ticket to collections. How punitive can you get? I paid it but resentfully and never went back. Good luck to you!!!” she writes.

It took just 30 minutes for Bradford to find a resident who was willing to help.

Alana Toms was the first to offer assistance. She told Peace Arch News Friday that she understands the challenges of working at a restaurant on Marine Drive.

“I try to help where I can. She seemed like a younger person that needed some help while she worked a few hours on the beach, I thought ‘why not,’” she said.

Toms said she’s neither for or against pay parking.

“I’m torn with that one,” she said.

“Because I live in White Rock and I pay my $40 for my decal, I think that’s fair. I can park on the beach for four hours, I don’t have any problem, I find that’s fair for the year. Would (pay parking) deter residents away? I think it does. You can go to Crescent Beach that offers a nice beach and restaurants and free parking.”

Although the two still have not met in person, Toms offered Bradford her residential parking pass – free of charge – for the duration of her shifts.

Bradford said she gratefully accepted the offer and later told her co-workers about the agreement.

“They think it’s a great idea, actually, and I’ve had four or five different people from that post message me and say if I know any other servers that need a spot, they would be happy to help,” Bradford said.

“Down at the beach there, I think everybody knows that Marine Drive is a struggle between restaurateurs and staff alike.”

During peak season, the city charges $3 per hour for parking on the waterfront – a four-hour maximum in West Beach east of Oxford Street – and Bradford said it’s “not reasonable at all.”

“That’s definitely more than anybody wants to spend at work, and I pay a babysitter. Spending my tips on parking is not something I want to be doing.”

She said she views the pay parking as a deterrent for residents who wish to work in the restaurant industry – “huge, especially with all the new development in Grandview and all that’s going on. There’s not much of a reason to work down there.”