Halifax

Winterban woes

In the interest of bringing Halifax kicking and screaming into the age of the horseless buggy, I am sending the following open letter to Mayor Peter Kelly, affected city councillors, and the head traffic czar, Ken Reashor. Here’s hoping they consider my plea. I’ve gone without a car for so many years because of this city’s stubborn refusal to consider alternatives to an all-out parking ban. Now that I have a car, I’m losing sleep wondering where to put the damn thing. The satirist in me wants to call for an all-day parking ban, too, just to make life impossible for the suburbanites who’ve gleefully park on my street (gratis) from 7:30-5:30. However, the letter below is more likely to get results. Although, given the lack of brains at city hall, who knows.

Mayor Peter Kelly
Council Members
Traffic Authority Manager Ken Reashor

Mr. Mayor, Council Members, and Mr. Reashor,

I am writing this open letter as a resident of a residential street in district 12. My flat is in a quiet neighborhood street which sees little through traffic. Many of the houses in this area do not have ample off-street parking for residents. Closing the streets to overnight parking during the winter causes an unnecessary and unfair stress to the families living in this and similar neighborhoods.

I ask, on behalf of all residents, that you consider a change to your current parking ban: allow alternate side parking on residential streets. This parking scheme is used in many different cities around the world with similar housing set-ups and that also receive large amounts of snow in the winter. Some of those cities include New York City, Iowa City, and Stockholm. There are many other cities worldwide not listed that use a variation of this idea.

The parking scheme is quite simple: On specific nights, parking is permitted on one side of the street but not the other. The parkable side alternates according to a fixed schedule, allowing snow removal to proceed on the opposite side of the street. Cars parked on the wrong side will be ticketed or towed if they impede snow removal. Streets designated as traffic arteries continue to remain car-free every night. Stockholm uses a schedule whereby on odd-numbered nights, cars are allowed on the side of the street with odd-numbered houses. On even-numbered nights, cars are allowed on the even-numbered side of the street. Such scheduling allows each side of the street to be cleared every other night.

Changing the overnight parking rule does not require the manufacture of complicated parking signs. No signs are produced now to enforce or inform residents of the winter parking ban. Residents were expected to hear about the December 15th, 2008 decree through news stories, by checking the HRM website, or through word-of-mouth. Similar methods could be used to make residents aware of new parking changes. Residents will become familiar with new rules quickly if they receive information and receive warnings or a small ticket when parked on the wrong side of the street.

Alternative parking would not need to apply to all parts of HRM. Most of the suburban area has ample off-street parking for residents. The residents most inconvenienced and unfairly penalized by the overnight parking ban live in districts 5, 11, 12, 13, and 14.

Thank you for considering this request,

Brian Altheim

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5 thoughts on “Winterban woes

  1. A well written letter! An excellent solution. I would like to add a side note, referring to your day time gratis parking for downtown workers, in Montreal, they have parking on one side of the street until 1pm, the other allows parking from 11:30 on. THis prevents people parking on their street for the day to go to work. If you are at home on the street and must park on the street you are able to move your car at the appropriate time. Best of luck on your letter!

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  2. I just chatted with Dawn Sloane (my councillor). She kindly gave me Ken Reashor’s proper e-mail address (I mistyped it on the letter), and we bitched about him for half an hour. Apparantly, provincial legislation gives him the absolute right to impose a parking ban on non-provincial streets (i.e. anywhere in the old cities of Halifax, Dartmouth, etc, etc.). I’ll have to send a copy of this to my provincial MLA.

    Also, the complete parking ban was asked for by plow drivers. Obviously, having no cars to contend with makes the job easier and safer (as would alternate-side parking). Get this, though: Apparantly, their personal driver’s insurance is affected if they damage someone’s car while driving a snow removal vehicle. This seems ridiculous to me. My roommate’s car was severely damaged once by a postal truck parking on Maynard Street. Her front end was torn off because the driver misjudged. The damage was covered by the Post Office’s group insurance, and I didn’t get the impression from the driver (who I talked to) that they were going to be penalized at all. If my impression was correct, I would seriously suggest that the city look for a new group insurer and divorce the driver’s personal policies from their professional policies.

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  3. Hi Brian,

    I do not think czars read small folks and commoners letters. Here is my suggestion how to deal with czars that is proven to be effective. “Off with their heads!”

    It might take a year or two but it might happen. And this what exactly I whispered our current czar during recent Council meeting.

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