Nanaimo city staff will prepare a case to create a ‘managed bylaw exemption program’ for certain vehicles parked on city streets, in the same location, for more than a day.
The city’s traffic and highways regulation bylaw states that, unless given special exemption, “no person shall stop… a vehicle on any highway for a continuous period exceeding 24 hours.”
“The important thing that I want to highlight is that street parking across the city is really an amenity for all users,” said the city transportation manager, Jamie Rose, at the July 18 city council meeting. He said the bylaw provides a “fair and equitable” use for area residents and businesses.
The conversation was initially brought forward in June as a response to a November 2020 motion that sought residential exemption, which stated it created barriers for people with physical and financial limitations whose residences lacked adequate on-site parking.
Last month, council requested staff provide further information to help better understand the “opportunities and challenges” for street parking needs of the community.
Resident exemption already exists for areas in Brechin Hill, the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Vancouver Island University and downtown, said Rose.
According to Dave LaBerge, the city’s bylaw services manager, the 24-hour countdown only begins once a bylaw officer takes note, and in some cases, vehicles are left beyond the 24 hours. A city report noted that of the 850 calls for enforcement received last year, only 270 incidents were found beyond the limit.
“The traffic bylaw only requires that vehicles reposition at the termination at the period of time,” he said. “If the owner goes out and moves it two or three feet off of its original position – really, that satisfies the requirements of the bylaw.”
He also noted that doing so can still create issues for municipal crews and emergency vehicles when trying to access narrow roads.
Although staff recommended council maintain the regulation and enforce as needed, at least until a city-wide parking management strategy can be formalized, Coun. Sheryl Armstrong made a motion for staff to prepare a business case to create the exemption program in order to reduce barriers.
“The parking gestapo are not swooping down in the middle of the night to raid your vehicle or slap a sticker on it,” said Mayor Leonard Krog. “We have basically what amounts to a three- or four-day grace period … that strikes me as fairly reasonable … This is not a city-wide problem that is of such magnitude that I think that we should be going against the recommendation of staff.”
Armstrong’s motion passed 5-4, with Krog and councillors Erin Hemmens, Ian Thorpe and Jim Turley in opposition.