Sooke resident Randy Welters standing at the edge of the no parking zone near a trail next to the Prestige hotel.

When a no-parking zone is a parking zone

Parking remains a controversial issue on West Coast Road near Prestige hotel in Sooke

When Sooke resident Randy Welters was driving by the Prestige hotel one day, he noticed a young woman walking into the middle of West Coast Road to get around a parked truck – moments later, a car came from behind, missing her by mere inches.

It’s a common sight along the notorious stretch of road, as everyone – from baby strollers, to disabled scooters, to joggers and cyclists – use it to on a daily basis.

Given what he’d seen, though, Welters is adamant this is an accident waiting to happen.

“The car was coming up from behind her which all of a sudden realized what was going on and pulled out into the middle of the road to pass her. You just know what could have happened next,” he said.

Concern from nearby residents and other Sooke residents poured through District of Sooke’s doors in July, which led to a no parking zone and the addition of a trail and parking lot, accessible through the bottom of Maple Avenue South. Council also passed a no-parking bylaw, along with a $50 fine and possible vehicle impoundment.

The no parking zone runs between the Prestige hotel parking lot entrance and the trail leading up to the outflow parking lot. No signage or regulation has yet been implemented for the remaining stretch of road leading up to Maple.

Despite some high volumes of trucks and boat trailers in the Prestige hotel area during the summer, no tickets have yet been issued since the bylaw went into effect, said District of Sooke chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan.

“We weren’t issuing tickets [during the summer] because we have a lot of fishing derbies and tourists in town and we didn’t want to leave them with a bad taste in their mouth,” she said, adding that before tickets are issued, people will first get a warning.

“Our approach is going to be first-warning tickets and we’ll try to educate our public with respect to the additional parking that’s available on Maple Avenue South and also some signage at the Prestige we’ve already put up,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan acknowledged the district received several complaints from people who live nearby that trucks and boat trailers are parking too close to driveways and blocking visibility, in which case the RCMP has jurisdiction to issue tickets and get them towed.

Improved signage is something the district will continue to monitor, said Sullivan, hoping everyone will follow the rules and use the new parking lot.

As far as enforcement, big fines and towing would only be considered as final measures.

“If it’s a hazard on the highway, then we can tow it away, though there haven’t been any situations where someone needed to be towed in that area,” said Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur.

“We don’t weigh in on parking very much, but it could happen if someone continues breaking the rules,” he said.

Still, residents like Welters aren’t convinced the extra parking lot and trail will stop people from parking or walking along the road, allowing scenarios like the one he’d seen recently to keep on happening.

At least, until one day.

“Someone will be walking along there and a logging truck or a car will come along and kill them … then maybe everyone will take notice,” Welters said.