Tak­ing a look at fire lanes

Bay Roberts Mayor feels con­cen­tra­tion key to com­bat­ing il­le­gal park­ing

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

If you’ve spent any time in Con­cep­tion Bay North, you have seen them.

Any day or night, you can count on at least one mo­torist ca­su­ally bring­ing their ve­hi­cle to a stop in the fire lane of a shop­ping cen­tre or a gro­cery store and wait­ing while a pas­sen­ger runs an er­rand.

The stop might last five min­utes or 25 min­utes, but ei­ther way there is a prob­lem amongst some mo­torists in Con­cep­tion Bay North when it comes to il­le­gal park­ing.

In re­cent weeks, the Town of Car­bon­ear in­sti­tuted a pol­icy that al­lows their mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer ( MEO) to is­sue tick­ets to those caught park­ing il­le­gally. In the past, that of­fi­cer had to re­fer mat­ters to the RCMP.

When The Compass shared this story on its Face­book page last month, so­cial me­dia users ques­tioned whether the neigh­bour­ing town of Bay Roberts could do the same thing. The an­swer is yes, and it is some­thing town of­fi­cials have done.

Bay Roberts MEO Perry Bow­er­ing was granted the author­ity last year to write tick­ets for park­ing vi­o­la­tions. Through the fi­nal quar­ter of 2014, he is­sued 19 such tick­ets.

Along with that, the MEO has is­sued count­less ver­bal warn­ings and had a num­ber of con­ver­sa­tions with res­i­dents.

How­ever, things ap­pear to have not changed. Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Philip Wood, notic­ing a dif­fer­ence can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially when the lanes are filled quickly once the of­fi­cer leaves.

“Peo­ple think it is fine to park if it is only for a few min­utes,” said Wood. “It is some­thing we hear a lot about.”

In Bay Roberts, polic­ing il­le­gal park­ers can be dif­fi­cult — per­haps more so than it is in any com­mu­nity in the area. The town has two shop­ping cen­tres and three gro­cery stores.

“We only have one of­fi­cer and it can be time con­sum­ing,” said Wood.

A danger­ous habit

Wood said there are nu­mer­ous risks when a per­son de­cides to park in the fire lane. First, is the in­her­ent fire risk that comes with re­strict­ing the abil­ity of emer­gency per­son­nel to do their jobs should the need arise.

The other is the phys­i­cal risk to in­di­vid­u­als.

“When the cars are in lined up, it makes it harder for pedes­tri­ans to see what is com­ing when they leave the store,” said Wood. ‘It is a danger­ous habit.”

Park­ing il­le­gally is a lot like lit­ter­ing. Mem­bers of the public see no prob­lem with throw­ing that used candy bar wrap­per or cof­fee cup out the win­dow and leav­ing it to harm the en­vi­ron­ment.

“It is some­thing that peo­ple think is okay, but is cer­tainly not okay,” said the mayor. “I think it’s rude and I think it is also danger­ous. Wher­ever you go, it is cer­tainly an is­sue. It is very frus­trat­ing.”

There is no clear-cut so­lu­tion to the prob­lem towns are fac­ing when it comes to il­le­gal park­ing.

Whether it is the MEO hand­ing out tick­ets or mem­bers of the RCMP op­er­at­ing a week­end sting a cou­ple of times a year, the num­bers do not ap­pear to be dwin­dling.

“It is very dif­fi­cult to see a dif­fer­ence,” said Wood. “I think you could pa­trol it all day long, ev­ery day and as soon as some­one dis­ap­pears, they do it again. I think it is im­por­tant to do con­stant su­per­vi­sion be­cause it is im­por­tant to show that we are con­cerned.”

The mayor feels con­cen­tra­tion on the is­sue could be a key to break­ing bad habits.

“I think a con­cen­tra­tion over a cer­tain pe­riod is a way that you can com­bat it,” said Wood. “Not only is it a de­ter­rent in that you’re get­ting a ticket, but it also shows peo­ple that the act is wrong.

“You’re not al­lowed to park in fire lanes or blue zones.”

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Compass

Th­ese cars were parked il­le­gally in the fire lane of the Bay Roberts Mall on the af­ter­noon of Jan. 29. Through the last quar­ter of 2014, Bay Roberts mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer Perry Bow­er­ing has is­sued 19 tick­ets and count­less ver­bal warn­ings.

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