by Melanie Taylor
Leila Francis believes that if city leaders thought they could get away with it, they would demolish all the homes in the Heritage community and make a giant parking lot. Vehicles of downtown workers and General Hospital visitors fill up the streets in Heritage and violate the one or two hour parking limits, but the city’s parking commissionaires rarely hand out tickets.
“It’s a political minefield, and that’s the reason why it doesn’t get addressed,” said Francis, who is executive director of the Heritage Community Association. “If they crack down really hard, where are all those people going to park? Sometimes I think they just turn a blind eye to the issue because they don’t have a good solution.”
Francis has been working with the community association for 10 years, and hasn’t made any headway with the parking problem. According to Francis, the city could give the community association the authority to write parking tickets, but they refuse to do so.
“They kind of laugh at us when we say that,” said Francis. “If they don’t have the resources and the manpower, we’ll do it.”
Parking enforcement is the responsibility of the Corps of Commissionaires, which is contracted to the Regina Police Service. There are only two commissionaires and a supervisor who have the authority to issue tickets if a vehicle has been parked on the street longer than the allotted time. According to Inspector Tom Mansfield, the parking officers wait to receive a complaint before they issue a ticket.
“If we receive a complaint, they are put on a priority list of first come first serve,” said Mansfield.
Francis said the city and police don’t have enough resources to keep up with demand, so community members are discouraged from reporting to the police because they don’t see results.
“(Residents) are so sick of calling the city because they never do anything. They’re sick of calling the police because they never come. If they call, they want to see something done,” she said.
Francis thinks the solution is for people to ride the bus more.
“Regina is very afraid to really deal with this. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but I know the reason. The reason is political. It’s not that we couldn’t solve it.
“I can guarantee you, if you got a ticket every single day you would find an alternative. But getting one, maybe two tickets in a month is pretty cheap parking,” said Francis.
Craig Shutko lives next to the General Hospital. He has to pay for a parking permit to park on his street for longer than two hours, but he has trouble even finding a space.
"There needs to be a more positive approach to the problem. (The problem) is laziness on the part of the city,” said Shutko.
According to Shutko, people are parking illegally out of desperation, so simply ticketing won’t stop the problem. He thinks the city should provide more parking lots and he suggested zoning streets as hospital parking or community parking, not generic two-hour parking.
Shannon Coleman parks on Heritage streets to see her sister in hospital. She’s been parking for about a month without getting a ticket.
“I’m too cheap to park in the parking lot. I’ve probably saved fifty dollars this month because I’ve been here a lot,” said Coleman.
“People are going to do whatever they can get away with, and until we can hit them in the pocket book, they’re never going to change,” said Francis.
Above: Halifax Street is lined with vehicles despite a two-hour time limit.
Photo by Melanie Taylor