St. John's woman struggles with downtown residential parking

Barb Sweet
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Sherry Gaulton has pondered selling her downtown house because she suspects visitors' parking permits in her area are being abused, leaving her circling the neighbourhood often for a spot.

Gaulton, who lives near major office towers around the Delta Hotel, has been calling the city since last November and said she's been told by officials it takes time to look into the complaint.

The downtown area is divided into several residential parking zones. For an initial $12 fee and proof of residence, people in the areas can obtain a parking permit. (The fee is reduced to $6 in subsequent years). Each eligible household can also obtain a visitor's permit, the intent of which is for temporary use by someone dropping by their home.

But Gaulton suspects some people give their visitors' permits to relatives or friends who work downtown so they can park their cars, or even rent them out to strangers who work in the parking-space challenged downtown.

She has lived in the area for a decade and said the problem has gotten much worse.

"These people shouldn't be allowed visitors' permits," she said of anyone who abuses them.

Besides those permits, parking in the residential area is compounded by the number of vehicles per house, and taxis often use the street as a layby while waiting for downtown customers, she said. And she prefers to stay home hockey and concert nights because it's impossible to park if she goes out.

Gaulton suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and hauling groceries from two or three streets away when she can't get a spot near her door is tough.

"I don't know what to be doing," she said.

"I'm pretty done with it."

Gaulton was so fed up trying to get the city to deal with the problem, she called her MHA, St. John's South Independent Tom Osborne.

Osborne said he's received another similar complaint and has reached out to the city, but has not gotten an answer yet.

He said the visitors' permits are numbered and the city should be tracking them. He said if residents are concerned and noticing motorists placing visitors' permits in their car and going off to work, they should take note of the numbers and pass it on to the city.

Osborne said with the municipal election coming up, he'd like to get a commitment from candidates to address the problem.

"There must be a way for the city to police onstreet parking so permits are not abused," he said.

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay, who isn't running again, said he's only gotten a handful of complaints over his time on council and he can only recall one incident where there was abuse - that a non-resident was found to be using a visitor's permit to park while at work downtown. The permit holder is first given a warning and if the problem continues, the privilege is revoked.

Galgay said when there is a complaint, the permit is monitored for five days. Often this reveals a valid reason for the extended use of a visitor's permit, such as someone looking after a sick relative, he said.

According to Galgay, the city receives six to 12 complaints about downtown residential parking a year and each is pursued.

"We take this very, very seriously," he said.


Geographic location: St. John's

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