Vancouver and other dense cities often bemoan the fact that they do not have the revenue tools for public transit. They complain to the federal and provincial governments and pretend they have no money.

Whiners, all.

Of course they have plenty of tools, but do not like to use them for fear of voter backlash. The biggest unused tool is  parking revenue in residential streets.

To me, offloading your parking requirements is like squatting. You demand free space, paid for by someone else. You occupy public property, for free.

Politicians love free stuff. Vote for me, and I give you free stuff. As such the squatter and the squattee, i.e. the authority that allows squatting are equally guilty.

Here are a few shots, near UBC along Marine Drive, along 16th Ave, along Blanca (that looks like a RV storage site) and in Point Grey to show how modern squatting in the car-era looks like. UBC exports their parking requirements onto 16th Ave or Marine Drive, for free. $4M house owners in Point Grey convert the garage into a rental property or exercise room, and park their cars on the street, for free. Why not allow tenting there, for free, too ? It is the same thing !

If Vancouver, which has 200,000+ cars in the city, charged a $100/month fee for the right to park anywhere, or perhaps $250/month for a dedicated spot this would not only generate about $250 -300,000,000 in annual revenue but also would eliminate many cars. Add other cities in MetroVan at perhaps 50% of this figure and you’d get the required annual $750M the Transit Referendum was asking for. It wouldn’t even need provincial approval or a referendum and it would be truly “green” and sustainable. It would achieve exactly what we want: a more walkable city, less cars, and pay as you go (or shall I say pay as you don’t go ?)

Since our enlightened mayors decided not to do that common-sense approach I – and apparently a vast number of residents – decided to vote against the car-neutral PST tax increase. We need a carrot and a stick to eliminate cars in our cities. The carrot is better and faster transit options which costs money. We all understand that. The stick is higher car use fees for its two states: driving and parking. More on road tolls later or elsewhere. But the timid politicians decided not to lead, but to ask others to subsidize free parking. They allowed squatting. Not a great policy tool to change behavior.