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Parking wars: What to do if you see unsanctioned 'street chattel' blocking spots

No cones, buckets, or private 'no parking' signs allowed.
Are Vancouver businesses or residents allowed to block off parking spots? Sometimes, like in front of a Mount Pleasant restaurant the week of April 3, the cones quickly give way to something like a seasonal patio installed in parking spaces.

Parking, especially free parking, in Vancouver is a big deal--as anyone who's ever circled the residential blocks around the PNE can tell you, people can get really worked up.

Just look at what happened when the City of Vancouver removed 200 parking spots to make way for the so-called 'banana barriers.'

Some parking fanatics even go so far as to put out cones or upturned buckets in an attempt to block people from parking in front of their homes.

So let's set the record straight and hopefully put an end to the parking wars.

Can anyone put a cone on the road and claim a spot?

The short answer: No.

The city defines street chattel as unsanctioned "pylons, cones, buckets, and private No Parking signs," and they are not permitted to be used to reserve street parking in Vancouver.

Not only does the city reserve the right to remove the items without warning, but also anyone can remove them and take the parking spot.

The rules are, if there's no city-issued sign, vehicles are permitted to park in front of residential and commercial properties for up to three hours (maximum) between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. unless you or your employer own the property, in which case you can park for longer than three hours.

There are, of course, exceptions based on spacing and signage. For instance, according to the city's Street & Traffic Bylaw, if the street is restricted to the parking of residents' vehicles.

Know the rules of parking signage. Can you park there? City of Vancouver.

What about in front of businesses?

"Street chattel applies to both business and residential settings," the city tells V.I.A.

Businesses are also not allowed to block off parking outside their storefronts. However, in the next few days and weeks, Vancouverites may see an increase in cones outside of businesses and a decrease in street parking spots for good reason (depending on your perspective).

From April 1 to October 31, permits for the City's Patio Program come into effect allowing restaurants and bars to install small outdoor seating areas on sections of the street that might otherwise be used for parking.

"The City’s Street Chattel requirements do apply to businesses; however we recognize that once a patio permit is approved and businesses are readying the space for an immediate patio installation, cones may be used," clarifies a spokesperson for the city.

"In our experience, patio installations are typically done as quickly as possible so this hasn’t been an issue to date," they say. "We continue to support businesses' efforts to streamline the patio application and installation process."