LETTER: Council needs to listen to residents’ parking concerns

LETTER: Council needs to listen to residents’ parking concerns

I have read the recent story about how Sidney council foresees that the new free parking facility at Mary Winspear is going to solve most of the parking situations faced by this town. Let me preface my comments by making it clear that newer members of our city council may not be fully informed about how the horrendous parking rules in Sidney have affected residents who live close to Beacon Avenue.

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The article stated the parking lot was “a way to entice shoppers to come and spend their money in Sidney by offering free parking.”

Myself and so many others beg to differ. It referred to the fact that those who live out of town but come here to work could now not have the worry about having to move their vehicles every two hours because of parking rules within a few blocks of Beacon Avenue.

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The most important factor was not addressed. Most of those people park just 20 feet from where the two-hour zones end – right in front of our homes where they can park for up to 24 hours.

I agree that the new parking facility should not try to squeeze revenue from those drivers who come here but let’s be reasonable about it.

I myself jumped feet first into the parking mess on our street and took the time to study it for months on end. I even took plate numbers of vehicles that take the parking spots in front of our building every day and presented them to city hall. It was to no avail because of the fact that every street in the downtown area allows all day parking just two blocks from Beacon Avenue.

My fellow residents of our building watch the same people every day come and walk away from their vehicles with lunch bag and brief case in hand. I presented a formal letter to our former mayor and made some sensible solutions but the letter I got back put squashed every one of those suggestions. In most cases the reasons were feeble at best.

It is human nature that if you live out of town but come here to work you are going to park at the very closest place to your workplace where you can park all day for free with no fear of being ticketed or towed.

There are two simple ways to fix this but our city council took a blind eye. My main suggestion to them was that it’s time this town put residential only parking spots on every street from First to Seventh. I’m not suggesting that the entire street be residential parking, with perhaps 60 to 70 per cent should be designated that way just as is done in almost every residential area in Victoria.

The response was that it would be too costly to put signs up and too costly to monitor it. I say hogwash. The cost to put residential parking signs on lamposts would be minimal. The cost of monitoring would be paid ten times over by the parking tickets handed out to those who won’t park at Mary Winspear.

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Every resident on every street that is affected by this would simply have to go and register their licence plate number at city hall and prove their address. They could then be handed a large R sticker to put on their rear bumper. The meter person would then know they are parked legally.

I can assure you that the residents of my building who have no choice but to park on the street would monitor the street on their own. If they see a car parked illegally they would be the first to call a tow truck or ticketing officer.

We have consistently seen people who go out on boats for the weekend or even on long trips via air on our street for days on end; sometimes weeks on end. We have seen taxi’s come at 1 to 2 a.m. when flights arrive and people make noise while unloading their luggage back into their vehicles from the taxi cabs. A cab to the airport and back is so much cheaper than parking at the airport for long periods.

Those who come into this town to work need a place to park but it must be made clear to all of them that they must park at Mary Winspear from now on. Employers must be made to notify their employees that this is the new way and that they can’t park in parking spots marked residential or they will be towed. When I go into Victoria there is no way I can park for free when I go downtown. Yes, I can park in the malls for free but forget it downtown. You are lucky to even find a parking spot never mind what it costs to park for an hour. If I work in Victoria and have to drive to work the cost of parking is very, very costly yet our city council in Sidney feel that these workers should be free. Charge them $25 a week or month for that matter. They have gotten off scot-free for too many years. That very small cost alone would put some needed revenue into city coffers; perhaps to extend the routes of ticketing staffers.

These workers come into Sidney and spend very little here and yet they get to park for free. I live here and spend 90 per cent of my meager income here and yet I can’t leave my building to go for a doctor’s appointment because by 9 a.m. I will not find a parking spot within five to eight blocks until after 5 p.m.

I am disabled and can’t walk that far comfortably. It is the residents of this town that keep the economy of this town going – not the people who come here to work or come here to sight see once a year and spend $20 in our town. It’s time to look at the real issues with parking and solve them very, very easily.

I will close by saying that in my letter to city hall last year I asked about the process to speak at a council meeting. I was told I would be granted three minutes. Half of that time would be spent giving my personal information. I also offered to come in and meet with some of my fellow residents that could enlighten council on the issues they perhaps can’t comprehend. I was not given that opportunity either.

Robert G. Duquette