Taking a look at fire lanes
Bay Roberts Mayor feels concentration key to combating illegal parking
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.”
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.