City looks to enforce private parking rules

by Phil Ambroziak

Rules were made to be followed.

That’s what Extra Foods manager Evan Haubrich feels, especially when it comes to the importance of adhering to parking and traffic warnings outside his store. Recently, Haubrich wrote a letter to Meadow Lake city council to ask if anything could be done to deter motorists from breaking such rules.

“We are constantly having issues with people parking in the fire lane near our store,” Haubrich said. “I’m not as concerned about people who are just idling their vehicles there as they wait for a family member inside, but more about the people who are parking and leaving their vehicles there. Can you please look into enforcing the fire lane in front of Extra Foods?”

Haubrich’s concerns were discussed at the Aug. 12 city council meeting at which time city manager Diana Burton reminded council the existing parking and traffic bylaw states the city does not enforce infractions on private property.

“To do so would require a change to the bylaw,” Burton said. “There are other community’s that will enforce such infractions, but only with the permission of the property owner. In this case, Extra Foods is not the property owner.”

Burton went on to say fire chief Neil Marsh has indicated the ability to enforce such infractions is something he would support.

“We receive a lot of calls about vehicles parked in handicap spots or fire lanes on private property,” she said. “I recommend amending the bylaw.”

Considering the city’s lack of authority when it comes to addressing such issues, councillor Annette Klassen wondered why property owners simply don’t enforce parking rules themselves.

“Why must they ask the city to do it?” she wondered.

Burton said the city would collect the revenue from any tickets issued in such situations.

Subsequently, councillor Conrad Read moved for council to amend its current parking and traffic bylaw to address related issues on private property. The motion was seconded by councillor Merlin Seymour and carried. Burton also reminded council that permission from property owners would still be required even if the bylaw was amended. This was reiterated by mayor Gary Vidal.

“If we change the bylaw, we can still choose not to do anything depending on the situation,” Vidal said. “This would simply give us the opportunity to approach the issue as needed. We can change the bylaw, but it doesn’t mean we have to enforce a particular incident if the property owner doesn’t want us to.”

In an interview conducted following the council meeting, the fire chief expressed his desire to see something done to address this ongoing concern.

“Fire lanes are there for a reason – to provide access for emergency vehicles,” Marsh said. “If people are parking in them, a bad situation could potentially become a lot worse. Yes, this is an issue that has been brought forward in the past, and I hope a solution can be found.”

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