Snap your fingers, Bill — cont.

My parking ban post and Bruce Wark’s rebuttal has sent readers to their keyboards. The ban enrages North End Halifax homeowner Cliff White:

The rage is prolonged by the following sequence of events. Eventually it snows either during the day or during the night. If it’s during the day and it’s a modest amount the street may get plowed during the same day, with cars parked on both sides of the street. If we are lucky the plow might return in the next few days and do the street again, and if very lucky this will happen at night and some improvement will take place. If the snowfall is large or happens at night as it did the with first snowfall this year, then my neighbours and I wake up to find that in fact the street hasn’t been plowed during the night. Just as infuriating, when the street is eventually cleared, it is not done back to the curb. So as the winter progresses, the street gets increasingly narrow–to the point where parking is eventually restricted to one side of a very narrow street. In a neighbourhood that contains both Statacona and The North End Seniors Centre the rage becomes palpable as the season progresses.

A number of years ago they did remove the parking ban for one winter, but in a way that I remain convinced was designed to fail. They let everyone park where they liked, and required them to more their vehicles when snow fell during the night. Ever since then, whenever the topic comes up, the city spokesperson says, well, we tried that and it didn’t work.

Actually, it would be very simple to have a working winter parking policy. First, no overnight parking on major thoroughfares. Second, on other streets, allow parking on alternate sides of the street on alternate nights. That way, when the plow actually came by during night, two thirds of the street could be plowed in the first pass. Forth, tow cars that are parked in the way to a nearby clean street and ticket them. Lastly, clean the damn streets back to the curb.

For the last couple of years, I’ve spent a good part of the winter in Quebec City, where they have an average of twelve feet of snow during the winter. They also have on-street parking. They do an initial plow down the middle of the street. They have lights on posts every few blocks, and when these lights flash orange, everyone knows the plows are coming in a few hours. When they flash red, you better be off the street: a task-force comes by with snowblowers and trucks and they clean the street completely–yes, amazingly, right back to the curb. But I suppose I’m dreaming that Halifax could ever have some similar system.

Just a little aside, when as a young man Howard Epstein first ran unsuccessfully for city council one of the planks in his platform was the removal of the winter parking ban.

In response to my suggestion of a parking ban limited to nights when snow clearing occurs, Bruce Wark asked where people are supposed to move their cars on those nights if they haven’t made accommodations. His implication: If they can make alternative arrangements on snow nights, why not do so throughout the winter? Charlene Boyce explains why:

I live in a flat that has behind it three parking spots — one for each flat. Beside us is a mirror image building with the same parking situation out back, so it’s a 6-spot parking lot. None of these spaces is mine, since my roommate had her car first. I’ve arranged for winter parking at a friend’s place, but it’s a 20 minute walk away — a 20 minute walk in whatever weather we’re getting. Inconvenient and unpleasant, but at least he’s not charging me. If the parking ban was as it used to be: move in bad weather–I’d suggest my car and the other overflow car in our buildings could easily be driven into the driveway, blocking in the other cars, sure, but off the street for the temporary duration of the storm. It would require cooperation among neighbors perhaps… but it’s a reasonable solution.

To Mr. Wark’s point, there are some people who live in places with no driveway at all, it’s true, and those people may have to make an agreement with their nearest driveway or parking lot owner, but it’s possible.

Possible, but not something you’d want to do every night for four months, just because the traffic tzar can’t be bothered to make distinctions between nights when it snows and nights when it doesn’t.

I have the same situation when I’m in Halifax. There is no space for me, but I can cram my car into the driveway at considerable inconvenience to other residents of the two adjacent buildings.

Suzanne MacNeil wonders why the ban is enforced in some places, but not others:

My partner and many of my friends live in the North End (just north of North Street) where enforcement is heavy. Notably, this is also a neighborhood where very few houses have driveways, characteristic of historic housing stock. It seems unfair to be fining the folks who don’t have anywhere else to put their vehicles.

Perhaps I am answering my initial question here. It would, after all, be silly to focus on areas where folks have driveways or other parking areas for their vehicles.

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