A businesswoman in downtown Charlottetown is fighting a parking ticket issued to her by police, saying the city’s overnight winter parking ban is confusing.
Katherine Ballem was having a late-night meeting recently with her business partner, Jeremy Johnston, inside his office on Queen Street when she went out to discover a $50 ticket on her windshield.
She spotted the ticket at 11:45 p.m. and saw that it had been written just minutes earlier.
The city had issued a snow alert (parking restrictions) notice on its website and on its various social media platforms, and there would be snow hauling and de-icing that night. The city’s winter parking ban is in effect from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
However, Ballem said Queen Street had been cleared the night before and that the street was free and clear of snow on the street itself and along the parking spaces.
“My frustration would be that a reasonable person would (assume) . . . that (parking) restriction would be on a discretionary basis,’’ Ballem said, that someone could park in a parking spot (that is free of snow) with no expectation that there’s not going to be any snow clearing, that (my) car is not going to be in the way (of snowplows).’’
“My frustration would be that a reasonable person would (assume) . . . that (parking) restriction would be on a discretionary basis, that someone could park in a parking spot (that is free of snow) with no expectation that there’s not going to be any snow clearing, that (my) car is not going to be in the way (of snowplows).’’
Ballem said her frustration only increased when she went home (she lives near Victoria Row) and saw snow-clearing equipment working on a side street. There were cars parked on top of the snow along the side and she said not one of them had a ticket.
Ballem said she immediately went to Charlottetown Police Services to appeal the ticket and was told she couldn’t appeal it because it was issued under the overnight parking ban. Ballem said she still wanted to dispute the ticket and was given a form which she plans on filing. Ballem also has the right to take the matter to provincial court.
Johnston said the message that this sends is that no one in the downtown is allowed to hold late-night business meetings, go to a show at the Confederation Centre, for example, or go out to eat and stay around.
“There is an inconsistency between the wording on the (city’s) website regarding parking bans and restrictions and how it’s being enforced,’’ Johnston said. “It’s strictly heavy-handed enforcement.’’
He said he’s worked in the building on Queen Street for the past five years, and this is the first time he can remember the restrictions have been enforced this strictly.
A spokeswoman with the city said tickets are issued at police discretion and that the city does its best to notify the public when parking restrictions are being enforced.
“Nothing has changed in this process from last year,’’ the city said. “This (parking restriction) system is used not just for snow hauling and clearing but also de-icing and winter operations in general. Anyone who does not move their vehicle off city streets when the parking restrictions/snow alert is announced risks being ticketed and/or towed.’’
Johnston added that he tries to follow the rules by parking in the Queen Parkade. However, this past weekend his truck was "broken into . . . the doors busted up and a window smashed while I was in.''
He said it's frustrating that even when you do abide by the rules and park in designated areas that it still increases your risk of loss/damage to your property.