Willoughby Town Centre has installed parking meters in a bid to discourage people from leaving their vehicles for long periods of time. Drivers are allowed three free hours. Dan Ferguson Langley Times Advance

New parking meter rules relaxed by Willoughby Town Centre in Langley

Long-term parking was tying up shopping centre spaces, manager says.

A few days after Willoughby Town Centre introduced parking meters to prevent people tying up parking spaces, the shopping centre has eased the rules that require drivers to register their licence plates and extended the amount of free time as well.

On Tuesday (March 5) of last week, the meters went in, with signage that said drivers were allowed two hours free parking, but they had to register their licence plate numbers at the parking meters to get it.

That drew complaints about the inconvenience from drivers who didn’t fancy lining up at the two parking metres to punch in their numbers for a brief trip to the shops.

One driver, Dan Clarke, told the Langley Advance Times his truck was too big to fit in the free underground visitor parking at the residential section of the centre at 80 Avenue and 208 Street, meaning he will have to pay as much as $25 for an overnight stay whenever he visits.

“Why is it [the meter] even there?” Clarke said.

“As far as I know, there are only two other places in Langley with parking metres, the hospital and the [Kwantlen Polytechnic] university.”

READ ALSO: More office, retail space planned for Willoughby Town Centre

Willoughby Town Centre property manager Terry Li said the meters were brought in because commercial tenants said their customers were unable to find parking spots, the result of contractors, nearby residences, and some Willoughby Town Centre residents treating the shopping centre as a long-term, free parkade.

“We’ve had some cars parked there for days,” Li said.

“We had to threaten to tow the construction crews [working nearby].”

He said it hasn’t helped that the Township of Langley currently hasn’t been enforcing parking restrictions along Willoughby Town Centre Drive, the main road into the complex off 208 Street.

“They’re not doing anything,” Li said.

Langley Advance Times has reached out to the Township for comment.

Li said in the five years since the shipping centre opened, there has been a lot of growth in the area, with new multi-unit residential buildings going up.

He maintained the shopping centre has enough parking spots.

“You can build all the space you want, and it won’t help” if people are allowed to park indefinitely, he said.

As a result of the complaints received about the meters, Li said the parking rules have been modified to allow three free hours of customer parking, and drivers won’t be required to register their licence plate numbers unless they stay longer than three hours and must pay.

There are no plans to accommodate drivers like Clarke who can’t use the provided free visitor parking, Li said.

“Visitors that are inconvenienced because they have over-sized vehicles that can’t fit in into the underground parking of a residential building need to park elsewhere,” Li said.

There will be no overnight parking, and the lots will be monitored throughout the day, Li said.

Employees of Willoughby Town Centre have “virtual tags” that allow them to park for work, he said.

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