It was great to see families and visitors enjoying the fine weather and great views at Ryerson Park on Sunday evening. All the while ignoring the clearly marked no-parking and no-stopping zones along the park's perimeter.
We love that visitors love Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it's not too much to expect them to follow a few simple rules. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has allotted parking along some nearby streets and promised to crack down on violators.
So, after months of debate and suggestions from area residents, new signs erected and increased fines passed (a $150 special levy) by council (but no signs warning of the new penalties yet), is the municipality serious about enforcing parking regulations around Ryerson Park?
On Sunday around 7:40 p.m. the stretch along Niagara Boulevard at Ryerson Park had 13 cars parked along its edge. There are parking spots for four vehicles. Four.
And on Wilberforce Avenue a few metres up from the boulevard, also in a clearly marked no-parking zone, was one more vehicle – parked on the wrong side of the road, facing the wrong way. That's a slam-dunk no-no.
Total number of parking tickets in evidence? Zero.
And not a bylaw enforcement vehicle in sight. In their defence, maybe they were busy elsewhere. But they arrived a few minutes later, parked their red van on Niagara Boulevard, partly blocking the lone westbound traffic lane, causing congestion for a few other vehicles trying to get by.
There were two bylaw officers inside, but only one got out. While the male passenger officer sat in the van, it's engine idling (does that contravene the town's idling bylaw?), the female driver proceeded to slowly approach parked vehicles near the west end of the park as sharp-eyed owners scrambled and raced to move their cars, apologies galore.
Total tickets resulting – one. And several thankful visitors who drove off, happy to not have been fined.
Then, back toward the eastern end of the park, and a similar scramble by drivers. Total number of tickets issued: unclear. Maybe one.
So, if “education” is still the town's goal, perhaps it was achieved. But the reality is, only a fraction of the offenders were caught.
And that male bylaw enforcement officer enjoyed it all, seemingly oblivious, comfortably ensconced in the air-conditioned comfort of his official town vehicle. (Perhaps it was break time? Or he was feeling unwell. Or maybe that is protocol. Or did his shift end at 8 and it was just too close to clocking out and too much effort to park properly, step out and do what we expect him to do?)
Doesn't. Really. Matter. Not impressed.