Duncan parking aims to leave space for shoppers

The parking enforcement program in downtown Duncan is intended to keep spots open for shoppers

The parking enforcement program in downtown Duncan is intended to keep spots open for shoppers and diners rather than people working in the core, where parking spots can be few and far between.

“The bylaw doesn’t specify that it’s for employees and merchants, but that’s how we enforce it,” explained City of Duncan chief administrative officer Peter de Verteuil, following the printing of a letter in the Citizen from an upset downtown customer who got a ticket.

“Our main focus is not to ticket customers. The whole parking enforcement program is meant to make sure that space is available for customers. We want people to come downtown, do their shopping and not worry about it,” he said.

The city has had the same parking regulations since 2005. A new bylaw was adopted last December, but only to clean up the language and formatting. None of the rules themselves changed.

“We’ve had the same system in place for about 10 years now,” de Verteuil said.

The wording of the bylaw is meant to prevent employees and merchants from “shuffling” their cars around different parts of downtown during the day, which is why parking in the area is limited to three hours per vehicle.

In order to avoid catching customers with that rule, the City issues multiple warnings before issuing tickets. Commissionaires use a licence plate scanner to keep track of how long vehicles stay in the regulated areas.

The first time a vehicle goes over the posted limit or re-parks in the downtown area, a notation is created in the system, but no ticket is issued. The same thing happens for the second violation. The third time a vehicle goes over the limit or re-parks, a notation is created and the commissionaire issues a warning, but not a ticket. Tickets are only issued once someone has accrued four or more violations.

Parkers who receive notices can also call city hall and have their situation reviewed. First offences are often withdrawn when they explain the situation

“When people phone and get information, they are generally pretty happy with the response,” de Verteuil said.

De Verteuil noted that when the city retooled its parking regulations in 2005, the fines and the cost of pay spots went up, but more of a discount was placed on monthly passes. However, because the focus shifted to enforcement, parking revenue went down as downtown workers opted to use monthly passes and pay spots.

“This has made parking enforcement more sustainable, without inadvertently ticketing the customers,” de Verteuil said.

De Verteuil also pointed out that, as much as people dislike getting parking tickets, or even warnings, the level of customer service provided by commissionaire Stu Allen doesn’t go without recognition.

“What other jurisdiction’s parking enforcement officer gets a Black Tie nomination?” de Verteuil asked.