Charlottetown’s meter men are on the ball

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Guardian columnist Shane Ross finds a neatly folded parking ticket on his windshield last Thursday.  Submitted photo

She was gone only a few minutes. Ten, 15 at the most. Popped into the Book Emporium on Queen Street and when she came back out, there it was. The dreaded white paper, folded neater than army linens, tucked snugly under the driver side wiper of her olive green Subaru Forester.

She wasn’t upset. Well, upset with herself maybe. She always feeds the meter. She keeps quarters and loonies – and dimes come April 1, when the meters go up – in the little tray under the trash.

“Today I was preoccupied,”  Helen MacPherson said as she plucked the parking ticket from her windshield. “I just forgot.”

But she wasn’t upset. Upset with herself maybe. Because she knows, like any Charlottetown driver knows, we have the best parking enforcement officers on the planet.

How good are they? I’ll tell you how good. Damn good.  Last Thursday I followed one of them. He gave out 12 tickets in less than an hour.

It started with the red Sierra truck parked in front of Currie’s Shoe Repair on Queen Street. Not even the Leafs vanity plate could garner him any sympathy. Ticket No. 1.

The officer walked up Kent and turned right on University. A black Mercedes outside Hearts and Flowers was ticket No. 2.

He turned right on Grafton and what did he see? A Hyundai Santa Fe parked outside Luna in a space clearly marker No Parking.  No. 3 was a no-brainer.

He completed the block by turning right at Cows and nailing a grey Dodge Caravan in front of Shoppers.

No. 5 was MacPherson’s Subaru, parked on Kent by the big black bell beside City Hall. No. 6 was a blue Rav 50 feet further outside the Charlottetown Hotel.

He turn right on Pownal and that’s where he found the motherlode. Meters flashing their red EXPIRED signs up one side of the street and down the other. Of the 11 cars parked on Pownal between Kent and Fitzroy, six got ticketed.

As he doubled back up Kent, I couldn’t watch anymore.  I ran ahead of him and put a quarter into an expired meter as he reached for his ticket book. (You’re welcome, dark grey Corrolla outside Handan’s Café.)

We chatted for minute. His name is Tom, and he wasn’t the surly, ruthless ogre that would have fit better with this story. Quite the opposite. Pleasant. Beautiful day, isn’t it.

He loves his job, not handing out tickets, but meeting people. Not all are super friendly, especially those who just got ticketed. He hears all kinds of excuses – “I was only gone a minute” is the most common – but bottom line, he’s got a job to do and he does it well.

And with integrity.

For example, if he walks by a meter with only one minute left on it, he doesn’t dillydally and watch it expire as I suspected they all do.

But they don’t fall for your tricks. My friend Tracy once tried sticking an old ticket on her windshield, thinking surely she wouldn’t get dinged twice. Wrong.

Beating the meter man is like a game at The Guardian, where employees park at the meters along Prince Street. At about 1:30 p.m. word spreads like a hot news tip that he is approaching and everyone jumps up from their cubicles and rushes to beat him to their car.

I got ticketed last Thursday too, just down from the Golden Wok on Grafton. Like Helen in the Subaru I paid it right away because if you pay within seven days, it’s only $5. That’s nothing. The poor suckers in Moncton have to pay $45, and in Halifax it’s $25 – $20 if paid within a week.

But, then again, their parking enforcement officers probably don’t work nearly as hard as ours.

Twitter: @PERhymeorReason












Organizations: Book Emporium, Subaru, Charlottetown Hotel

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Queen Street, Handan Prince Street Moncton Halifax

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Recent comments

  • johnthames
    March 18, 2013 - 20:27

    What a racket. These fellows are just collecting their salaries from parking tickets. If the city had any brains at all they would pull the meters and send the "officers" home. It's a disgrace for residents and visitors alike.

  • just sayin'
    March 18, 2013 - 17:40

    I'm just saying: 1 - Lack of paying even if only for 10-15 minutes is your own fault if you end up with a ticket. 2 - I agree this may not really be newsworthy. 3 - Keeping loonies and quarters in your car isn't wise, remember to lock up.(bit of a catch 22 I know eh?)

  • Badbogey
    March 18, 2013 - 14:58

    Maybe if the guardian employees used the parade like they are supposed to then there would be more parking spots for shoppers down town

  • Down Town
    March 18, 2013 - 14:34

    Perhaps some of the other public employees - like the City Police and Public Works could learn something here. Funny it's the one's who extract money from our pockets who are so efficient while those meant to serve our city are too busy hiding so they won't have to work. Who can I call to report the street sweeper who hides his broom and wheel barrow behind his friend's (my neighbor) house all day and gets paid? Who can I call when my street, in dowtown Charlottetown - with 2 schools on it - is not plowed for 4 full days/and is not policed at all? Who can I call when the city police are called by social services to deal with the guy next door who I hear beating his girlfriend, throwing her down the stairs , THREATENING TO KILL HER - in front of their child.. and then the cop tells buddy to take a walk and cool down, not arresting him or even giving him a stern talking to. Wow! The parking spots are safe...thank goodness...because the residents aren't!

  • Tom Jacobs
    March 18, 2013 - 13:46

    I hope the meter maids are reading this story, because in it you admit that the Guardian employees break the parking bylaws everyday by feeding the meters repeatedly. Shame on you.

  • Piet Hein
    March 18, 2013 - 13:10

    Just my Opinion - shouldn't you be working instead of posting comments? This is not a news story - it is a column which is much different than a news story.. This happens to be a light hearted column on parking tickets that most of us have to deal with. It is a slice of life piece not meant to be taken very seriously. I realize you are nothing but an internet troll who gets his kicks from posting inane comments, wise up.

  • What?
    March 18, 2013 - 12:32

    Really? Is this considered news?

  • msrgirl
    March 18, 2013 - 12:18

    About three years ago I received a ticket on University Ave. I took note of the time I left the car and the time I returned. I went directly to the Police Station to protest the ticket. They said they would have someone check the meter. I received a call informing me the meter was accurate. I purposely made a trip to town and checked the meter again and low and behold, it was off 6 minutes. That indicates the City of Charlottetown didn't check the accuracy of that particular meter and expected me to pay. They cancelled the ticket. The moral of the story is--if you are going to be away from your car a short time and receive a ticket, take note of the time.

  • In My Opinion
    March 18, 2013 - 11:43

    I agree it must be a slow day. I also agree that these men and women who are out ticketing the cars have a job to do like all the rest of us! There is no reason to get nasty with them as they did not put the meters there. These people are out walking in the coldest of cold and hotest of hot, the crappest of weather and not because they enjoy ticketing people but because they too need an income! I still can not wrap my head around the HST charge to parking meters. $1.10??? REALLY??? This government needs to shake their heads!

  • BobertBhiz
    March 18, 2013 - 11:28

    You can double park, obstruct a crosswalk, park halfway into the roadway if there's snow in the spot, park halfway over a sidewalk, park with your bumper against a stop sign. You'll be left alone as long as you don't let the meter expire for more than 10 seconds. Meters are necessary, but we should always consider what alternatives drivers have. It's getting less difficult all the time to get everything you need in outlying areas with ample parking. What is my point, then? We need to apply parking bylaws according to merit, and not lazily hang around meters within 30 seconds of expiring. The disruptive and dangerous parking in the city core is in the examples I listed above. Someone straddling a crosswalk or obstructing the view of pedestrians and motorists is very common and very dangerous. If only such offenses were enforced with the same voracity. I remember reading about these parking rules 25 years ago in the young driver's handbook. The reason I remember them, is because these rules are actually enforced elsewhere and it brings back those memories. I would be fascinated and actually be willing to help pay for an independent study on the bylaw situation in Charlottetown. It would be like finally getting my voice heard. All those bylaws like improper lane changes, signal light usage, improper parking, jaywalking, loitering and smoking where prohibited, loud motorcycles, etc, etc. I would love to see an analysis of occurrences vs enforcement, as compared to other communities in Canada.

  • Donnie
    March 18, 2013 - 11:22

    @Just My Opinion....sssh....we'll tell the City we're making up for low ticket prices by upping the volume of tickets given out.....

  • just my opinion
    March 18, 2013 - 11:12

    Must be a slow news day, because I have no idea why this is considered news. And from what I read, the only thing I can see, is that by making it a point of pointing out what people in NB and NS pay for their tickets does, is give our wonderful government a reminder that they forgot to increase the price of something else!

    • Captain Canuck
      March 18, 2013 - 13:13

      SHHHHHHH!!! ( not so loud! ) LOLZ, yup. Not newsy, but worth reading. It has enough air of newsiness.