By Joelline Girouard
The Halifax region has lifted its winter parking ban early for the third year in a row.
During the ban, cars were not allowed to park on any streets between 1 and 7 a.m. A mild weather forecast for the coming weeks prompted officials to lift the ban on March 4, which is 27 days earlier than intended.
Shaune MacKinlay, manager of public affairs for Halifax region says that although this is the third year this has happened, it is the earliest she can recall the ban ever being lifted. “We’ve been blessed with early spring conditions,” she said in a telephone interview.
However, as the weather can be unpredictable in the city, MacKinlay says that if there were another snowfall, provincial legislation says parked vehicles obstructing snow removal operations could be ticketed or towed regardless of time or date.
“It’s an issue of public safety,” she says.
The number of tickets issued each winter has been on the decline in the past three years, going from 10 750 tickets in 2009-10 to 7 637 tickets this winter.
MacKinlay says that although parking tickets bring in revenue to the city, the costs of clearing snow and salting roads are drastically reduced when cars are kept off the roads.
Karen Chambers, from the Halifax Traffic Authority, says that public safety is the main reason for the ban, not the fact that it is extra income for the city.
Commenting on rumours in the city about possible modifications to the parking ban, MacKinlay says that “ultimately, that’s a decision of the traffic authority”. This authority, manager Ken Reashor, could not be reached for comment.
Some believe parking enforcement should be more lenient. Brenda Nichol is one of them. While she does not own a car, she says that the winter parking ban prevents her from renting a car for a 24-hour period because she has no place to park it when the ban is in effect.
“The parking ban is needed when there is snow on the ground. When there is no snow, there is no need to ticket,” Nichol said.