Charitable organization suffering parking headaches

Charmin Shannon, who is known for helping others, is reaching out to the city for some help of her own

Charmin Shannon, who is known for helping others, is reaching out to the city for some help of her own.

As the coordinator of Meals on Wheels, Shannon, along with the help of volunteers, delivers hot, freshly made meals to the doors of ill and aging residents of Campbell River.

The program is run rent-free out of the back of the Island Health building at 930 Island Highway, across the street from Robert Ostler Park.

While the space allows Shannon to carry out the office end of the Meals on Wheels program, it also comes with parking challenges.

“We work a 3.5 hour shift,” Shannon wrote in a letter to city council.

“Parking rules are two hours around 930 Island Highway.

“When I am dealing with families who are trying to figure out how to look after their aging parents; who are distressed at the overwhelming issues of care that has fallen in their hands…I can’t go move my car because my cell phone alarm goes off and reminds me it is time to car hop,” Shannon added.

She said that she’s even been issued a couple of parking tickets because she’s been with a client and not in a position to go and move her car.

Shannon said the Meals on Wheels board voted to pay for one of the tickets after she let it slip that she had received a second parking ticket.

The other issue facing Shannon on an almost daily basis is the fact there are no allocated parking spaces in the lot where she works.

Which means she often is making a long trek to her car with meal coolers and containers that have been dropped off at the office.

“This makes it difficult to park in the all-day parking areas at the Visitor Centre or behind the old post office (in Tyee Plaza) and carry arm loads of stuff,” Shannon said.

“Heaven forbid it is windy and I sail off course on the sidewalk or lose Styrofoam cooler containers in the parking lot as I unlock my vehicle.”

A closer parking option, the Robert Ostler lot, is often filled up by 8:30 a.m. Shannon adds.

But there may be some help on the way.

Shannon’s letter was before city council at its April 20 meeting and Coun. Charlie Cornfield  cautiously directed city staff to come back with options to provide some assistance.

“I think they provide a very important service and I understand the problems with parking in that area downtown, and I think if we assist them that would be great,” Cornfield said. “But at the same time I think we gotta look at how we deal with it. That we don’t set another precedent. This is what I’d like staff to look at.”

Shannon said she would like to see the city provide Meals on Wheels with a parking pass that would allow its employees to park for up to four hours.

“Some sort of permit that can be placed in our vehicles for exceptions to the two hour parking rule,” Shannon said.

“This will allow us to not have emotional encounters with our townsfolk interrupted by a cell phone alarm and our sheepish apologies and explanations to people when they ask what the alarm is for.”