- BC Games
Standing in front of the Boot and Sombrero Smokehouse in Ladner, owner Brad Herauf looks at a line of vehicles in the scant parking spots available.
Looking back inside his restaurant, not a soul is to be found, even though it's almost lunchtime.
Herauf blames the lack of business on the parking problem in Ladner, a problem so dire he's considering doing something many restaurant owners might consider radical: closing down during lunch.
The rumour Herauf may close down for lunch was so rampant that it was raised as a point of discussion at the last Ladner Business Association meeting.
"It's been a point of discussion for five years," scoffs Herauf, adding nothing's been done to fix it.
Herauf says he doesn't have a problem with shoppers who park and visit the stores in the area. It's the office workers and shop owners who get to work in the morning, parking their car in the two-hour parking stalls, and stay there for eight hours or more.
"It's been bad for the six years we've been here," he says. "But in the past six months it's just gotten ridiculous."
The problem really comes down to one of enforcement. There is none.
"Obviously, signs saying two hour parking or one hour parking are useless," says LBA president Brad Cooper, adding that installing parking meters comes with a capital cost.
Business owners at the last LBA meeting discussed whether there was a budget to have somebody do full-time parking enforcement, but enthusiasm for such a plan is mixed.
"I've talked to the police and they say it's not their jurisdiction," says Herauf. "And I've talked to the bylaw guys and they said they're not ticketing cars because they're trying to figure out what to do."
The paradox faced by business owners is that they want enforcement to keep parking spots open for customers, but they don't want to begin enforcement for fear they'll scare away customers.
Vancouver made $42.5 million last year with parking meters throughout the city, but as has been pointed out by the LBA, there are capital costs to installing meters. And meters come with their own risk to business owners who fear it may keep customers away.
Herauf says it's difficult to estimate how much the lack of parking costs him in lost business. On sunny days he does better than rainy days where people aren't inclined to walk around the village and grab a bite to eat.
A parking review of Ladner Village conducted nearly a decade ago found the ratio of 3.3 stalls per 1,000 square feet of retail and office space—1,055 spaces—was sufficient.
A consultation conducted by Colliers International in January 2011 found that the issue with finding parking in the historic core is one of inefficient use rather than capacity.
The consultants said problems arise from the extensive use of on-street parking by staff who park their vehicles all day in stalls that could be used conveniently by potential customers for a few hours.
Herauf is taking his time deciding whether to cut out lunch because once he does it will be difficult to restore the hour after word spreads.
"I don't know if the damage has already been done, where people don't come down to the village anymore because they know there's no parking."