COLUMN: Logic lacking in downtown parking

Wright Turn

Got a parking ticket the other day.

I deserved it, I suppose, since I didn’t feed the meter.

Couldn’t, since I had no spare change left in my truck after some petty thieves broke in (while it was parked behind my house, mind you) a few weeks back by prying off the driver’s side door handle and fully mangling it in the process.

Aside from about a dollar in nickels and dimes, they also made off with my search and rescue ready pack (worth a lot more than nickels and dimes, as my insurance claim can attest), necessary for survival in case I’m out on a search for a lost somebody and need to feed, clothe or shelter either the lost person, myself or SAR teammates or tend to injuries.

But back to that parking ticket.

I found myself without shrapnel for the meter and since I was only planning a two-minute dash into a downtown bank on my way home from work, I chanced it.

Of course, those two minutes stretched to four and the dutiful Robbins Parking attendant (was he lying in wait around the corner?) already had the ticket entered in his system and the ticket was almost on the windshield as I dashed back up the sidewalk.

Next time I’ll go to the bank closer to home, where parking is unmetered.

Woe is me. For lack of a quarter, I’m $15 poorer.

Too bad, so sad, once it’s in the system, nothing can be done, the Robbins worker informed me before scuttling up the sidewalk, probably expecting an angry tirade, as I’m sure he’s experienced them before.

Frustrated as I was, I managed to stifle it by thinking of another supposed infraction for which I was cited back when I lived and worked in Victoria.

That ticket was not for failing to pay the meter, but for parking ‘too far’ from the curb. Apparently I was a hair or two outside the mandated distance.

Never mind that right behind me was a massive Hummer snugged up right against the curb but still jutting a good foot farther into traffic than my vehicle.

Talk about lack of logic in your parking rules.

So, despite my frustration, I also knew it was hardly Mr. Robbins’s fault. He’s just doing his job and enforcing the (nonsensical) system as it exists.

But therein lies the problem, as this newspaper has documented numerous times in the past. There is little sense in our downtown parking system.

Metered pay-parking on one street. Unmetered time limits a block or two over.

Personally, I have little cause to go downtown, other than to visit my favourite coffee shop over on Fitzwilliam Street (no pay-parking there, by the way) or my semi-regular stops at the used bookstores along Commercial Street, but that ticket is likely going to stick in my mind, and possibly keep me away.

Makes me wonder how many others feel the same after getting ticketed.

Considering our significant efforts to revitalize downtown, I’d think ripping out those parking meters would be a logical next step.

No need to make it free parking, just impose two-hour limits for on-street parking and have Mr. Robbins continue to ticket the offenders just as he does already.

If the city is worried about lost revenue, consider how much is being lost by the frustrating parking situation keeping people away.

If we want downtown to be a welcoming environment, get rid of those meters. Not only are they driving potential downtown regulars away, they’re unsightly.

Getting rid of them also makes the streets more attractive. Yet another plus for the downtown revitalization effort.

editor@nanaimobulletin.com