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Vernon bylaw enforcement officers come under fire
City of Vernon employees are being accused of heavy-handedness and scaring off business.
Coun. Brian Quiring lashed out at the bylaw enforcement department at Monday’s meeting.
“A business left downtown because of parking enforcement — a sense of harassment,” said Quiring.
“Bylaw officers stand around waiting for meters to expire. That’s the wrong optics to send. If there are two left (on the meter), don’t stand there waiting for it to expire. Keep walking.”
Quiring says there has also been a problem with bylaw officers ticketing vehicles related to a renovation project even though the business has reserved a parking spot and there is a hood over the meter.
“I’ve had lots of complaints,” he said.
Quiring’s comments about officers waiting for meters to expire were challenged by Clint Kanester, bylaw enforcement manager.
“Staff is directed not to do that. If the meter is counting down, they keep walking,” he said.
Kanester says there may be a perception of officers hanging around when they are actually ensuring a vehicle’s insurance is valid or they hope a resident will come out and feed the meter.
“We can write enough tickets by walking without standing around and waiting (for meters to expire),” he said.
In terms of businesses reserving a parking spot, Kanester says a vehicle must display a special permit to notify officers it is allowed to be there.
Coun. Patrick Nicol also says he has heard of downtown merchants concerned about parking enforcement.
“When they see an officer, they run to their till (to get money) and start plugging meters because they know what impact that has on their business,” he said.
Kanester says bylaws are in place to restrict an individual from monopolizing on-street parking and ensure other motorists can use it.
According to Kanester, some of the worst offenders are the people the city is trying to support.
“There are individuals on a list with 60 tickets in a two-year period and they are all business owners,” he said.
“They have other parking available to them.”