Parking problematic in Willoughby

Residents in a northern Willoughby neighbourhood are going back to the drawing board in an effort to get more on-street parking near their homes.

The residents of the areas around 80th Avenue between 208th Street and 212th Street came to Langley Township council in mid-December and were happy to immediately get some temporary relief.

Over the holidays, council voted to allow on-street parking on some roads around the neighbourhood, thus freeing up space while relatives visited.

That extra parking ended after New Year’s, and now the group is looking for new options.

“There’s a compromise possible,” said Courtney Wade, one member of the group. 

The problem is relatively high density, in the area that is a mix of single family homes on small lots and townhouses. 

Many homes in the area were built with three parking spaces on their property, and a number came with secondary suites. With two homeowners each with their own car, a renter, or a couple of high school or college aged kids at home, many residents are using up every available space they have. Visitors or tradespeople can’t park out front on 80th anymore, or on some of the nearby side roads. Some residents are stashing their cars in bushes nearby, said Levy Manuel, another member of the group.

The local group, which has members from each of the four large developments along 80th Avenue east of 208th Street, planned to meet Wednesday (Jan. 8) to come up with more options.

“They [the Township] did say in their last email they’re open to suggestions,” said Manuel.

One of the sore points for the residents is that the finished sections of 80th Avenue are very broad. Built for the capacity when the area is fully developed, they include several lanes and bike lanes, but no on-street parking.

Ashish Kapoor wonders why construction vehicles working along some sections of 80th Avenue are allowed on-street parking, including blocking bike lanes, while residents on the opposite side are banned from doing the same thing.

Members of the group say they don’t want the bike lanes blocked forever or removed.

“We’re cyclists too,” said Wade. “We’re not looking to fight with cyclists.”

Wade and others believe there’s room enough for bike lanes and parking.

Michael Coombes noted that there just isn’t any transit, which leaves driving the only option for most residents.

“Show me a bus stop,” he said.

A TransLink spokesperson recently told the Langley Advance there are no near-term plans for bus service along the 208th Street corridor due to the agency’s financial crunch.

Some parking in the area could actually expand in the future as the roads are developed.

One issue is that roads are widened by developers as they build, and the area is still a patchwork of completed projects and lots that have yet to see construction start.

Paul Cordeiro, a Township of Langley traffic engineer, noted that a stretch of 209th Street currently has no parking because only one side of it has been built.

There isn’t room for two-way travel and parking, but when the other side of the road is built, on-street parking will be allowed again, he said.

There are a number of similar half-roads in the area.

“We try to open up the lanes when we can,” Cordeiro said.

He also noted that construction vehicles are allowed temporary parking on major roads like 80th Avenue to keep them off residential roads nearby.

The issue is one that has come up at several other Willoughby developments in various forms. Residents have either complained about parking in their own neighbourhoods, or come to the council worried that developments nearby would overload already full on-street parking capacity.

Parking has been part of the debate over a number of recent developments west of 208th Street, where a denser mix of townhouses and condos is either planned or already under construction.

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