There’s a parking spot on Florence Street that haunts one Oak Bay resident.
It’s adjacent to her home, a multifamily building, in front of a single family home. Nicole Canuel used to park there, but constant hand-written notes and parking tickets created enough stress that she avoided it for more than a year.
In early 2021, she received several tickets while parked in front of the house next door.
“When I got the first ticket, I didn’t have the residential sticker on the back of my car,” she admits. Realizing her mistake, Canuel got one from the district and affixed it to the rear windshield.
But complaint-based tickets continued.
“The renters in my building have been disqualified from using a certain area of residential parking even though we are residents,” Canuel said.
It left her with the question: Does one individual have more right to park in front of their home on a public street than the other?
Within a signed residential-only parking area, Oak Bay’s parking bylaw allows a driver with a residential decal to park directly in front of their property and across the street within the boundaries of their projected property line. Basically, they can park in front of their home, or across the street from their home.
“This doesn’t mean that the resident owns or is entitled to use the space in front of their property,” said Oak Bay communications specialist Hayley Goodgrove. “Depending on the parking zone, the general public is often able to park there as well. However, the benefits conferred by the residential parking permit are limited to directly in front of the resident’s property and across the street.”
At the Florence Street apartment building, which does have some parking for residents but not all use it, that leaves a loading zone out front of the building and two-hour parking on the other side of the street.
“We are pretty limited on residential street spaces on our street as is most of the town,” Canuel said.
Resident stickers identify the block or zone a resident belongs to, which is why enforcement of residential zones is typically on a complaint basis. Canuel says she was even told to park in the loading zone and the commissionaire would not ticket her, if she left that one spot open.
That was last year, and the district has changed personnel since and has no record of it.
“In addition to residents who can only park in front of or across from their property, their guests and people engaged in business with them can also park in front of their property,” Goodgrove said. “Guests should leave a note on the dashboard of their vehicle to let the parking commissionaire know that they’re visiting the house. They must be present in the home while parked.”
She notes Oak Bay has limited use of “residential-only” parking restrictions, opting instead for short-term parking, such as the two-hour parking adjacent to Canuel’s home.
In those spaces residents with stickers can park for up to 24 hours.
No one can park longer than that.
For Canuel, the stress of parking is just another thing piled on to other barriers to consider when looking at staying in Greater Victoria – or leaving for a more affordable city.
It’s stressful and frustrating and leaves her spending time disputing a fine by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. But in recent weeks, inspired support on social media, she’s taken to parking wherever space is available – including the spot in front of the house next door with a note in the windshield pointing out her resident sticker on the back window.
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