Charlottetown City Council is making a perplexing mistake by changing the start of its overnight winter parking ban. This week, council gave first and second readings to start the overnight ban at 11 p.m., two hours earlier than the usual 1 a.m. parking curfew.
The 9-0 votes in favour came despite warnings from Mayor Clifford Lee who correctly predicted that nothing but trouble and confusion will result.
Why has council taken leave of common sense? For seven hours a day during the winter, city streets are expected to be free from traffic and parked vehicles so crews can be unimpeded in clearing snow and ice from streets and sidewalks.
The city’s public works committee says the change is to give crews more time to clear snow. The committee might consider that the city is either ill equipped to get the job done in a timely fashion or it has snow-clearing priorities in the wrong places.
The 11 p.m. ban was used on a trial basis last year and worked out well says committee chairman Terry Bernard, who explains the ban is only enforced during snowstorms and nights that crews will be clearing snow or de-icing.
The mayor says otherwise. Lee told council he got phone calls from residents who are ticketed or towed during nights it didn’t even snow and they weren’t de-icing the streets. The mayor warns that overzealous enforcement is going to create a major headache for the citizens of Charlottetown.
Bernard further confuses the issue when he suggests the city would not ticket and tow vehicles until after closing time which could be midnight, 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. Why change the bylaw if it won’t be enforced?
Is council telling Charlottetown residents and visitors that the capital is going to shut down an hour before midnight from November 15 to April 15? It would have a major, detrimental impact on businesses – especially in the entertainment and hospitality sectors.
Then the city has an online snow alert to let residents know if restrictions are being enforced. More confusion. Diners will need a fork in one hand and iPhone in the other to monitor the city’s enforcement plans for that night. Keep the bicarbonate of soda handy.
And forecasts are not always right. Last Saturday, for example, snow was in the forecast. People panicked, shopped early, rushed home and then watched a few flurries or showers fall on the capital city. The same situation happened Tuesday night.
This time of the year should tell council that the nightlife is alive and busy with holiday shoppers and partygoers enjoying extended business hours, dining, music, Christmas parties and entertainment options. If it’s a clear Friday or Saturday night during the winter, of course the downtown will be busy until well after midnight.
How can anyone take this 11 p.m. ban seriously? Before it stumbles into a third reading, council must reconsider this folly. Perhaps the next time the mayor offers advice, his council might be well advised to listen.