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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Letter: Peach festival visitors paid for parking and then got ticketed. Twice
Robert de Savoye  photographed cars parked in the old  hospital parking lot – and on the grass – on the peach festival weekend. He paid $24 to park, then received two $30 parking  tickets about 2.5 hours apart.
Robert de Savoye photographed cars parked in the old hospital parking lot – and on the grass – on the peach festival weekend. He paid $24 to park, then received two $30 parking tickets about 2.5 hours apart. Supplied

Dear editor:

It felt like an old friend had just stabbed us in the back.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, you would think that Niagara-on-the-Lake would want to greet its visitors with open arms, not levy a fine on those people who had to park on the grass in order to come and spend their money at the Peach Celebration.

We are a family from Ajax, Ont., who have attended the NOTL Peach Celebration for many years.

And yes, we still visited NOTL in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic period, even though the festival was on hold.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, the day of this year’s Peach Celebration, we arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake at about 12:30 p.m.

While overall parking was scarce, we were pleased to find space at the old hospital lot (at Byron Street).

I immediately went to the meter assigned to the lot and used the “contactless payment” method and obtained my receipt by email.

While I found the $24 fee a bit onerous, as we had to park on the grass field (there were no clear indications as to where not to park), we were nevertheless glad that we could now go and enjoy the festival.

A few hours later, to our surprise, as we came back to our car to deliver a load of peaches and other purchases, there was a “Penalty Notice” (a parking ticket for $30) under the windshield wiper.

(We actually received two tickets, about 2.5 hours apart, but the town cancelled the second  one.)

Both tickets stated we were not parked within a “designated space.”

The parking lot signage clearly indicates “find parking space” and we found a parking space within the area available. There were no chains, concrete barriers or otherwise clear restrictions barring parking on the grass area.

However, in reality, the bigger issue is much more than the fact a fine was levied on law-abiding visitors. Most people will simply pay the $30 ticket and be done with it.

I really do feel like an old friend stabbed us in the back. And, as such, I am certainly inclined to go and spend my money somewhere else next year.

From the expressions and comments of the many others who received similar tickets on that Saturday, I expect I am not alone in feeling that way.

This is where a municipality needs to work with its merchants and its Chamber of Commerce in order to ensure its visitors feel treated fairly and want to come back.

While I appealed the ticket, unsuccessfully, I have now paid the $30 fine. But this family will now travel and discover more welcoming Ontario towns next year.

Robert de Savoye

Ajax, Ont.