Employee complaints about parking at the RCMP headquarters in Victoria were dismissed by a federal labour tribunal in July.
The RCMP’s Island District Headquarters (IDHQ) employs roughly 172 staff and is located in Victoria. The 60 to 70 RCMP members are represented by the National Police Federation (NPF).
While the IDHQ – located in the 2800-block of Nanaimo Street – has 124 parking spaces, a policy implemented in March 2019 assigned 80 per cent of the spots for specific RCMP police vehicles. That change significantly reduced the number of “scramble parking” spaces – those that could be used as first-come, first-served spaces for other RCMP vehicles, municipal vehicles and visitors or employee parking.
That left 35 parking spots for more than 100 employees. Some parked on the street and moved their vehicles every two hours to avoid being ticketed by Victoria bylaw officers while others pay for parking in private lots, take public transit or walk or bicycle to work.
At first, the RCMP covered the cost of parking tickets. But eventually the employer decided members would have to pay their own fines.
To make matters worse, police cars both inside and outside the lot were sometimes damaged and subject to “trespasses, thefts and suspicious persons photographing police cars and persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol entering the lot.”
As a result, the RCMP started building a fence around the lot.
But the point of issue in the complaint was that the new parking policy was implemented during the “freeze period” – the time before the labour board certified the NPF as the bargaining agent for the unit of employees.
The NPF asked the labour board to order RCMP to reinstate free scramble parking at the building and pay members the cost of public parking passes retroactively to the date they could no longer park at the headquarters.
But in June, the employment board panel decided the change to parking was not significant enough to be considered an alteration of a term or condition of employment under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act and the complaint was dismissed.
“The facts show that the parking spots available in the morning before the change (approximately 35) at best met half the demand for parking,” the panel wrote in its decision.
“The parking spots currently available in the morning … still meet at best only half that demand.”