January 13, 2015 - 7:27 PM
VERNON - Thanks to a directive from city council, when you pay for 15 minutes of parking downtown Vernon, you now get 20.
Council increased the parking meter grace period to five minutes from two Monday, Jan. 12. More than 900 parking meters will be reprogrammed at a cost of roughly $3,200 to provide the extra three minutes. The grace period only applies at plugged meters that have just run out and will actually provide six minutes, which includes the time it takes for a bylaw compliance officer to write a ticket. If the vehicle owner returns before the ticket is completed, the officer has the ability to cancel it.
Parking violations currently provide over $225,000 per year in revenue to the city, and while the impact the extended grace period could have on revenue is unknown, Bylaw Compliance Manager Clint Kanester estimated a possible five per cent reduction on ticket production, or roughly $11,250.
Coun. Brian Quiring, who originally brought forward the motion, was frustrated the grace period won’t benefit people who need to run into a store to get change before plugging the meter.
“People in the downtown... want the ability to run into the store to get a quarter, or get change to plug the meter. That’s when they’re getting ticketed. That’s where I wanted this to go,” Quiring said.
Quiring floated the idea of bylaw officers simply waiting a few minutes at expired meters before writing tickets.
Chief administrative officer Will Pearce pointed out the city has 935 meters and asking bylaw to stand and wait at meters would be an “extremely difficult situation.”
Coun. Catherine Lord supported the five minute grace period but said she was losing patience with the topic of extending the grace period to cover situations where a person needs to run into a store to get change.
“When you initially go down there (to downtown) you know you are going to have to pay,” Lord said.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham also felt some frustration with the reoccurring topic of downtown parking meters.
“It’s just human nature, people don’t like getting parking tickets,” she said. “It’s one of those things. If you’re going to be shopping downtown, buy a roll of quarters.”
Coun. Scott Anderson had another beef with parking meter rules: the $25 fee people have to pay if they appeal a ticket and lose. He’ll be bringing a motion forward at the next council meeting to remove it.
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