A commuter who travels Downtown from Richmond every day is appealing for the River Rock Casino to reinstate its formerly free parking lot.
For five years, Catherine Miller parked in the casino’s vacant lot, to the south-east of Bridgeport station, before jumping on the Canada Line to get to her accountancy office in Vancouver.
At the end of August, however, the lot was abruptly closed off, forcing commuters to park in the casino’s already congested south parkade, which only costs $2.50 a day.
Since then, Miller, who lives near Westminster Highway and No. 6 Road, has spent hours circling the parkade and surrounding streets looking for a parking option.
“By 8:30 a.m. every morning, all the spots are taken in the parkade and those spots are not opening up again that day, as they’re used primarily by commuters,” Miller told the Richmond News.
“Cars are circling around the block, looking for somewhere to park. Cones are placed in front of businesses and the few houses that are there. It’s all two-hour parking limits or spaces reserved for casino guests.
“I think there are parking spaces about five blocks away, but that’s not really an option, is it? I have to drive around and around and sometimes I end up having to just drive all the way to my office Downtown, it’s all very random.”
Although the lot was previously free, Miller said she would be more than willing to pay to park there.
“Why can’t we just have some parking meters out there? Charge the $2.50 a day, the same as the parkade?” she added.
Asked if she had considered parking at other Canada Line stations in Richmond, Miller simply said, “no chance.”
“It’s all shopping mall parking…so that’s out. I’m trying to use public transit but it’s causing a lot of inconvenience.
“Is this not what we’re supposed to be doing to save the environment?”
After contacting the casino, Miller has been told that it is “working on options with the city.”
Sonja Mandic, director of media relations for River Rock’s owner, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, told the News the lot had to be closed due to it “becoming a dumping ground for trash and abandoned vehicles.”
Mandic said the company is working with the City of Richmond to “ensure that the necessary upgrades are made to the vacant area, ensuring safety for all who use that particular parking area.
“Until the project is completed, the public is encouraged to use the 24-hour South Parkade located across the River Rock Casino Resort where parking is available for $2.50 all day.
“We do recognize that at times the South Parkade may fill up and space may be limited, but we are hopeful that together with the (city), we will be able to offer a temporary parking solution in the near future.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this time.”