At least one downtown property owner would like to see the city restrict overnight parking in its downtown parking lots, as Tyee Plaza has done. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

City of Campbell River looks at restricting overnight parking in downtown lots

Additional enforcement would require additional funds, but a few tweaks could be made for free

The City of Campbell River is looking at the possibility of making more changes to the downtown parking situation in response to complaints about overnighters taking up spots in city-owned lots.

The city received the complaint from Ted Arbour of TAT Properties Ltd, who owns several parcels of land downtown, asking that all city-owned parking lots have “No Overnight Parking” signs erected. While Tyee Plaza has these signs in place, the city-owned parking lots – including the one of Beech and Cedar streets – do not, Arbour says, adding that if the city is making downtown safety a priority, this is a logical step to take.

“As more and more people have had to resort to living in cars and recreational vehicles due to high rents etc.,” Arbour’s letter reads, “we urge you to … place parking restriction and enforce these restrictions. This would ensure the safety of both workers as well as the safety of the individuals who have to call a vehicle home.”

After receiving the letter in December, council tasked city staff with coming back with a report on the situation and what, if anything should be done. That report came back at the most recent meeting of city council.

The staff report says there are already numerous bylaws in place that apply to downtown overnight parking, including a Traffic and Highways Regulation Bylaw limiting parking “on any highway,” which includes city owned parking lots, for a continuous period exceeding 48 hours, as well as a Public Nuisance Bylaw that says, in part, “No sleeping in any vehicle located on a highway or other public space (including parking lot),” and “No person shall sleep, camp, on any street (including parking lot).

The difficulty, the report says, is enforcing these bylaws.

“The city currently has three bylaw officers, who work regular business hours,” the staff report reads, adding that while the city contracts Robbins Parking to patrol parking time limits in the downtown area, “there is generally no enforcement of parking regulations after hours and on weekends. If overnight enforcement is desired, the city would have to increase funding.”

Mayor Andy Adams made a couple of motions that could see some changes, but no funding was announced to increase enforcement.

The first was to reduce the current limit in the Traffic and Highways Regulation Bylaw from 48 hours to 24.

“I think that will be easier than to try and keep track of whether a vehicle has been there for two days or not,” Adams says. He also wanted to look into the possibility of the city issuing overnight parking permits, because “sometimes there are business vehicles that need to be parked overnight and rather than it just being for 24 hours, if there was some way to give them a tag or a ticket or a sticker to designate that those vehicles had been approved for longer term overnight parking, that would be good.”

Director of operations Drew Hadfield said staff will look into these requests and come back with another report on their feasibility.

Coun. Ron Kerr pointed out that it doesn’t do much good to change restrictions and regulations if they’re not going to be able to enforce them, to which Hadfield replied that bylaw officers “have the ability to enforce even if we don’t have staff working during those hours. We have the ability to make enforcement decisions and those decisions can be carried out during daytime hours, even if it’s a nighttime issue.”

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