When you finally find a vacant parking spot in Tyee Plaza it can feel like you’ve landed on the Monopoly board’s free parking space.
Of course, there’s no jackpot coming your way, just a short walk to work, a shop or the Quadra ferry.
But the management of the Tyee Plaza has served notice that it’s no longer going to serve as the free parking square in “Campbell Riveropoly,” beginning with vehicles parking overnight.
Over the last couple of weeks, security personnel at the plaza have been papering windshields with a pink flyer warning that overnight parking at the plaza will no longer be tolerated starting May 4.
For one Quadra Island commuter, Lawrie Bowles, that is an understandable but inconvenient development.
“The owner of the Tyee Plaza has decided to go out and evict all the overnight parking,” Bowles said. “It’s been heavily used for years by Quadra people. For years.”
Parking in the plaza has always been taken for granted by not only Quadra commuters but also Campbell River residents shopping or working downtown. Even though the city provides two free parking lots up against the bluff along Cedar and Dubeau streets, people still like to park in the Tyee Plaza because it is so central and convenient.
If you live on Quadra Island, bringing a vehicle over can cost you $23.90, compared to $10.30 for the walk-on fare. Being able to walk off the ferry, cross the street to Tyee Plaza to get into your car and drive to work is very convenient.
But that free ride or, more correctly, free parking, may be coming to a halt.
“What we’re finding is that at midday, the parking lot, it’s full. There’s no room for clients of the mall to park,” said Mary-Jean Jacobsen, Director of Property Management for the Tyee Plaza. “The tenants have asked us to be more stringent.”
By Monday, however, plaza management had softened their stance slightly, indicating they’re willing to accommodate Quadra Island commuters who park in the plaza overnight. But it is going to cost a fee and require a permit.
What’s happening is that something residents and commuters took for granted is no longer going to be tolerated.
“Part of it is habits (have to) change,” Jacobsen said.
What’s also changing is an apparent increase in the use of the plaza by drivers. This is surprising considering that nearly half the plaza is vacant.
“The lot is very often full,” Jacobsen said.
A further complication is the interpretation of a covenant put in place when the Tyee Plaza was built in 1961 that requires it to provide “reasonable” access to the public for parking (see side bar). The plaza was built on filled in foreshore and for that privilege of alienating beach habitat, the Province of British Columbia placed the covenant.
Unfortunately for the plaza owners, they’re caught in the middle of what was considered almost a right in Campbell River.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to be the bad guy,” Jacobsen said.
But she wants the community to realize that the plaza is playing a part in bringing services and more new development to Campbell River as it pursues commercial and other tenants.
The plaza has plans to demolish the former Super Valu store and build on that site. This will cut into the available parking in the plaza as well as place more demand on the remaining spaces.
Bowles, meanwhile, is sympathetic to the plaza’s plight and is willing to pay a reasonable amount for the privilege of parking there.
“That’s something we would go for,” Bowles said. “As long as it’s something reasonable.”