The Campbell River Airport parking lot has fees but the city doesn't have the authority to enforce them.

No teeth to airport parking fee

Drivers are eluding parking fees at Campbell River Airport because the city doesn’t have the authority to enforce them, according to a city staff report.

Clinton Crook, senior buyer for the city, told city council that city bylaw officers have recently implemented random parking lot inspections to check for people who aren’t paying for parking. Drivers found without a valid parking permit, however, are getting away with a simple reminder ticket.

“The reason for issuing reminder tickets at this time is the inability of the bylaw officers to issue official parking tickets due to existing bylaw restrictions,” Crook said. “Staff will continue to monitor the parking lot by issuing the passive reminder tickets.”

Crook said that even in the absence of stiff penalties, recent random vehicle checks showed that just 20 to 40 vehicles did not display a valid parking ticket.

And, once city bylaw officers started issuing the reminder tickets, Crook said the most recent vehicle check found that number decreased to just eight vehicles being out of compliance.

Crook said part of the reason that drivers don’t bother with the parking tickets is that the pay parking machine is “extremely difficult” to operate.

“We have received numerous complaints from users and airlines customer service agents regarding the ease of use of the existing machines,” Crook said. “The airline customer service agents have watched customers attempt to use the machine and offer help but quite often the customer will choose not to purchase the parking ticket due to the hassle. Our image as a hassle-free airport is suffering with the existing pay parking machine.”

Mayor Andy Adams said he has experienced first-hand how difficult it is to use the existing machine.

“I certainly will attest that the current machine that has been there for years has been the subject of constant entertainment for the staff at Pacific Coastal and Coastal Mountain Air as they try to assist people in how to operate what I consider the worst parking machine I’ve every used in my life,” Adams said.

At Monday’s council meeting, council took steps to remedy the problem by approving the purchase of a new automated pay parking machine from Robbins Parking for $11,054. The machine is expected to be installed inside the airport terminal building, rather than the parking lot, and will be the only pay parking machine at the facility.

Dave Morris, the city’s general manager of facilities and supply management, said the system from Robbins will be “brand-new and user-friendly” and will be the same system that Robbins uses at pay parking facilities across the Island. According to Crook, pay parking at the airport generates an annual revenue of $60,000 for the city. He said in general the airport parking lot is typically 60 to 80 per cent full during the shoulder season and 90 to 95 per cent full during peak season. Crook added that the 2013 introduction of Pacific Coastal’s service from Campbell River to Bella Bella has increased the number of vehicles requiring long-term parking and city staff are looking at options for a long-term secure parking area adjacent to the existing parking lot to meet the needs of those customers.