Parking up the wrong tree

By Nicole Gnazdowsky

“Parking in Halifax is terrible,” says long-time Halifax resident Brendan Forbes. “And it only gets worse in the winter.”

Forbes is an engineer who works in Dartmouth but lives on Tower Terrace, a one-way street in the south end of Halifax with no on-street parking.

With no driveway or parking available for his rental unit, his only choice is to park on surrounding streets.

But that’s not an option when the winter overnight parking ban is in effect.

“I understand the purpose of the ban, but it’s incredibly inconvenient. The only place I can park my car is one of the parking garages downtown,” says Forbes.

“By the time I pay for transportation home after parking my car for the night, paying for the overnight spot, and then paying for my transportation to the garage in the morning, sometimes it just seems like less of a hassle and almost as costly to just risk leaving my car on the street and getting the ticket.”

The first night of the winter parking ban in January brought in $13,000 in ticket fines for the city. (Photo: Nicole Gnazdowsky)
The first night of the winter parking ban in January brought in $13,000 in ticket fines for the city. (Photo: Nicole Gnazdowsky)

A ticket for violating the ban has doubled to $50, and cars can be towed. When the parking ban is in effect, it runs from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

There are a few ways to find out when the ban is in effect, to avoid a ticket, or worse, being towed. Residents can call 311 or sign up on the city’s webpage to receive notifications. Updates are also available on Twitter @HFXParkingBan.

“We suggest that people find alternative arrangements, we suggest they have permission from anyone who may have a parking lot,” says Brendan Elliott, the senior communications advisor for HRM.

“We try to give 12 hours notice prior to the ban for people to make theses arrangements. On rare occasions when parking is really bad, some garages are offering parking for free.”

If the ban is in effect it’s important to have a backup plan for parking.

The website allows users to enter their location to view a list and a street map showing parkades, how many parking spaces are available, how far away they are and the cost.

There are 61 parkades in the downtown Halifax area, with three larger Impark parking lots on Spring Garden Road, Sackville Street, and South Street.

According to a 311 recorded message, tickets can be issued anytime, day or night, if a car is parked in a manner that impedes snow clearing.

So even if the ban is not in effect, a ticket can still be issued.

Elliot says that, under the provincial motor vehicle act, if there is a need to clear a road and a vehicle is in the way, it can be ticketed or towed.

“We will use that from time to time if it appears we really need to get in and clear the streets,” he says.

Many narrow streets need to be widened as emergency vehicles have difficulty getting through.”

James MacQuarrie, a lifeguard living in South End Halifax, has been issued more than a few parking tickets this past year.

He struggles with parking in Halifax year-round, and winter poses yet another hurdle.

“I feel like parking signs are designed to be confusing to the driver. Some say you can park on this side of the street between these hours, and the other side of the street will be the opposite,” he says.

“The next street over could be just completely different, all these differing rules makes it difficult to not get a parking ticket.”

“I guess that’s just city parking for you, they make enough money off of tickets it makes sense to make things confusing,” he says.

“Easy income for the city.”

The city reported that the first night of the winter parking ban this year brought in $13,000 for the municipality.