Parking enforcement during a pandemic is unreasonable

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A street full of cars completely buried in snow. Valerie Hinojosa (Flickr)

An open letter to the City of Regina

To the City of Regina,

On Jan. 13, a large chunk of Saskatchewan was hit by a storm that rattled the streets. The wind caused traffic lights to be ripped from the streets and shingles to be torn off roofs. The storm began with freezing rain, which gave way to cold winds with gusts of snow, and settled a few days later.

And when the storm settled, many in Regina – myself and my apartment residents included —  found half-buried, iced over, stuck-to-the-windshield parking tickets. The reason? “You have been parked on a residential street for more than 24 hours.”

Frankly, I’ve always found the rule silly, but I understand. It’s to regulate traffic flow and ensure one car isn’t claiming a spot that could be utilized by others. But, City of Regina, I raise you this: it is a literal global pandemic.

I find it interesting that in a time when city and government officials alike are encouraging residents to stay home, wash their hands, and wear masks, that city parking officials see the need to punish those that are obeying those orders and remaining at home?

However, the more I began to think about this, the more situations I could imagine that could cause even more turmoil due to these ticketing procedures. Receiving a ticket after a storm when your vehicle cannot move isn’t new to Regina, and the city knows this.

This exact situation happened back in 2018 when parking officials began ticketing cars downtown that were buried in 35 centimetres of snow, many on streets that had not yet been ploughed or cleared given the high levels of snow in a matter of 24 hours. Yet, parking officials continued to give out tickets until enough citizens complained. Then, they retracted them.

Weather is not the only obvious concern. We are in a global pandemic, in which many have lost their jobs. What does one do if they’re unable to afford gas or maintenance? Not like it matters much since we need to remain inside. Except that isn’t allowed.

What about individuals who have been exposed to COVID and need to isolate? What will they do? Are they expected to regularly move their cars? After 14 days of not paying a ticket, the price more than doubles. Is that fair? Getting punished for obeying public health orders?

Staring down my residential street at buried vehicles with frozen tickets stuck to their windshields, I felt my stomach turn. Yet again, this feels like the city taking an opportunity to capitalize off of the vulnerable.

If you would like us to survive this pandemic and remain safe and secure, we should start by not punishing those for remaining at home, for obeying orders, and for trying to keep our curve lowered.

Admittedly, based on the upwards COVID curve of our province, I’m not sure if that is much of a concern anyways.

Taylor Balfour

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