Winter Snow Route Blues

Downtown residents left with nowhere to park

It’s not a Winnipeg winter if you haven’t violated the annual snow route rules.

From the familiar sight of yellow ticket paper stuffed under windshield wipers, flapping in the frigid air, to neon-clad parking officials and the twilight tow truck squad, Winnipeg is a winter parking nightmare.

For downtown - south of Broadway and Assiniboine specifically - the problem is at its worst. The blocks between Kennedy St. and Donald St. are primarily residential, filled with apartment buildings and the odd convenience store. From Dec. 1 to March 1 the densely populated area is subject to the annual winter parking ban, leaving two out of the five streets completely off-limits to overnight parking. Limited parking on the remaining streets is an understatement.

“It’s really just awful,” Rosemarie Unger says. Unger is the caretaker of an apartment building on Kennedy Street and has been a resident of the area for over 10 years. 

“It’s as if they don’t want us to own vehicles,” she says.

For a quarter of the year that the parking ban is in place, there is no parking from 2 to 7 a.m. on either Kennedy St. or Edmonton St. The ban was increased by an hour this year, an inconvenience when the ban on the small section of available parking in the Legislature grounds ends at 6 a.m.

A standard evening for Unger consists of driving around in circles, searching for the few spots not affected by bans so she can safely park for the night. If no spot exists, Unger is forced to park far away on the opposite side of the Legislature - on West Broadway - or face a ticket.

“I’ve been towed three times this winter already,” Unger says. “I’ve subscribed to receive emails from the City when the snow routes change but sometimes they don’t email and the hassle isn’t worth it to fight the charge.”

Violation of the parking ban results in a $100 ticket, $50 if paid early. Between Jan. 5 and Feb. 17, 2014, some 9,558 tickets were given out. At the minimum ticket amount that’s almost $500,000 in revenue for the City in the span of about a month.

“The problem is that people are leaving their cars all evening and taking up all the on-street parking which is intended for people to come and go to area businesses or to visit residents,” Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) tells The Uniter via email. 

“People need a motivation to park in a parking lot off-street or to carpool or bus.”

While the environmentally friendly effort the City is making is applaudable, the fact remains that downtown residents need cars as much as anyone else. Especially when basics such as grocery stores are far away.

The winter parking ban only adds to the issues facing Winnipeg’s downtown.

“There is absolutely no thought given to the residents of the area,” Unger states. “None at all.”

Published in Volume 69, Number 18 of The Uniter (January 28, 2015)

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