KAMLOOPS – A downtown resident with a self-described 'contentious' relationship with the city was before council asking not only for parking meters to be removed from in front of a couple of St. Paul Street apartments but also to have her parking tickets withdrawn and her two towing bills covered by the city.
Sheila Zilinsky has lived in a suite at Elizabeth Court, 130 St. Paul St., for about a year and said while she does have a parking spot out back, problems with trucks, ambulances and drunks blocking access leave her with no other option but to park in front 30 per cent of the time. This has resulted in 19 parking tickets and three tows, for a total of nearly $500.
This lack of being able to park in her assigned spot is not a landlord issue, she claimed, but rather a city issue. Councillors were divided on exactly how to broach the subject, though several were quick to say lack of parking is actually more of a landlord issue in their eyes. Many councillors also tried to show some sensitivity to the issue during the hour-long discussion though others went straight to the point.
“When I lived on Nicola there was no parking in the block,” Coun. Pat Wallace said. “I have to pay to parking every month where I live now.”
Council easily decided to allow Zilinsky to go on a payment plan for the tickets, as long as she doesn't incur any more infractions, but Mayor Peter Milobar had to finally put an end to the talk about having staff look into the timing of the tows and if they coincided with police or ambulance incidents that could have kept her from being able to park in her assigned spot.
“We're turning this motion into a murder investigation,” he said, adding he would not support staff looking any further into the towing charges. “If we're saying parking tickets are valid... they're what triggered the towing, so by virtue (the towing is valid too.)”
Ultimately the motion was voted against by all of council, but not before Wallace again weighed in.
“We have to remember we set rules and send staff to carry them out,” Wallace said. “In a rush to make us look like nicer people... we're in a rush to trash the work of the staff. They're very careful in what they do and how they do it. (This motion) says we don't have confidence that we think they're competent.”
Zilinsky said she doesn't see why residents or guests should have to pay for parking and that many people renting in those buildings are low income and can't afford the meters.
“The 100 block is 87 per cent residential, and the socio-economics,” she interrupted at one point, “it's different than any other area in this city.”
Council didn't fully agree with her allegations and her request to have the meters removed was easily dismissed, with council concerned over the precedent it would set to remove several meters in that block but nowhere else.
Community Safety and Enforcement Manager Jon Wilson said he isn't aware of any other complaints in the area, though Zilinsky said she had letters from 17 other people with the same issue and conversations with RCMP that support her claims.
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