Visitor complains to Mayor about Parking Ticket

A recent visitor to Cobourg is unhappy that he received a parking ticket for overstaying at a meter on King Street.  He spent “over $100” at one of the two “nice men’s clothing stores” and admits staying about 10 minutes longer than he paid for but says that although Cobourg “depends on tourist dollars for a good part of their economy”, it’s not doing everything possible to encourage tourism.  He asks for 10 minutes grace.  He perhaps did not notice that meters on King Street already give 15 minutes more than the hour that a loonie pays for.  But when you think about it, that’s not a grace period – it’s just more time for your money.  A “grace period” is when the meter says expired and you don’t get a ticket for a period of time.

Every December, the DBIA arranges for a genuine grace period of an hour – when the meter says expired, you won’t get a ticket for an hour.  But that doesn’t apply the rest of the year.

Cobourg Parking Meter
Cobourg Parking Meter

Of course if you use the Honk Mobile app, you can remotely “feed the meter” but the unhappy visitor (David Little) seems to have used cash.  The photo at right shows what the meters now look like.

But David goes on to say:

Have you considered, possibly, giving the owners of cars parked a bit too long a 10 minute period of grace?  A nice note stating that the Downtown Business Association has added half an hour to your parking time might also give out of town shoppers the sense of being welcome.

People tend to treat others the way they themselves are treated.  When we next drop one of our children or friends at the train station, we will probably drive to Port Hope for shopping and eating.

May I respectfully request that you examine the ways in which you treat visitors?

His letter is on the Agenda for the Council meeting on Monday, September 10 because he asked the mayor to share the note with Council.  It’s unlikely that anything will change but the letter once again raises the subjects of Tourism and Parking.

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Gil B

Paid parking downtown was supported by the DBIA and the town of Cobourg. The revenue it generates is critically important to the future development of downtown parking. It should come as no surprise that someday in the near future we will lose a large part of our parking that we currently lease and will have to replace it at a significant cost. Some of the parking revenues go towards our costs and the remainder goes into a Parking Reserve so we can minimize the burden on taxpayers when this day comes. I could be wrong but I think even the CTA would approve of this although they tend to line up behind whatever they think will give them some much needed traction. For 2017 downtown parking revenue was $185K, parking passes generated $70K, Victoria Park revenue was $260K, and fines (the majority from Victoria Park) were $140K. User pay at work!

Ken Strauss

What is the current balance of the Parking Reserve? Can you provide an estimate of the cost of replacing the currently leased parking?

Gil B

Sorry for the late response but I don’t have time to read the blog daily. The current balance as of the end of 2017 is $547,800, with more to be added for 2018. The replacement costs will run into several million as the only sensible option is a multi-level parking facility on Covert St. It would not make sense to use potentially developable land in the downtown core for parking.

Gerald Childs

I agree the public needs to know a grace period is already included. As far as getting a ticket while shopping; pay the fine and quit whining. When I travelled to downtown Toronto for the day, I parked once; did all my shopping, and other touristy stuff and ended the day with dinner. When I got back late to my car I had a ticket. I didn’t write a letter and complain to the Mayor. I was raised to accept the consequences of my actions, I paid the fine online when I got home. My outlay was considerably more than one hundred dollars. The fine was double what it is here in Cobourg.

Rob

If grace is to be provided I would suggest that charity begin at home…I believe a voucher should be issued to residents of Cobourg to allow to FREE parking in the downtown area to promote attendance at local events and patronizing local shops – limit this to a particular period during the year if you like. I wouldn’t suggest not having a grace period, with a notification procedure to the visitor…I think the message is a positive one and a token gesture which is not soon forgotten.

Of course CTA sympathizers (and others) will cry foul regarding the wasted/lost revenues in inequitably propping up downtown businesses….so be it. Opinions are like bellybuttons…

Jason Beatty

Some lesson’s are best learned the hard way I guess. I’ve had a parking ticket in the past and paid without issue. I knew the rules when I parked, and failed to adhere to them. Sure the punishment stings a bit, but the lesson was learned and hopefully the money is put to good use (finger’s crossed). Now, I tend to throw an extra quarter or two in the machine leaving time for the next person.

manfred s

100%. How refreshing to see someone take personal responsibility instead of looking to someone else to ‘make it all better’!

cornbread

Another fine example of “User Pays”.

Damit

Paying for parking is a standard in almost every city around the world. I don’t think Cobourg should be any different. Had coffee yesterday on King, parking was free, then headed to the beach, not free. However a short drive away and it is free to park where you can just walk to the beach.

Elaine

I got a ticket in Port Hope. I mentioned it to a store owner on the main street. and she took my ticket and paid it for me. She said that any of the businesses in Port Hope will do the same. She also gave me a small gift from her store for my “trouble”. Cobourg DBIA might want to pay attention.

Ben

Parking meters are not infallible. A month ago one meter outside the Oasis did not register my coin. I immediately phoned the Town and asked to speak to “Bylaws” – got a machine and told it that the meter has malfunctioned and if I got a ticket I would like it to be cancelled. Surpriise Surpriiise when I returned I had a ticket on the windshield. I trotted off to the Town Hall where I spoke to the manager of the bylaws and related my tale of woe. He was totally unsympathetic and told me that the machine would be checked and my call would be traced. At the end of the day I received a message that the machine had tested to be correct and that they could not find my message on a machine. Cut a long story short I had the ticket cancelled because after sending a screen shot of the call history and telling the Manager that I would be contesting the ticket at no cost to me but great cost to the Town I was told that they had found the message and because that message was the same message I had told the Manager… Read more »

Walter L. Luedtke

Chuckles.
Attaboy Ben.
Speaking Truth to Power!

Rusty Brown

Good for you, Ben. Your efforts are valued.

Walter Luedtke

Ah yes!
The immortal bard, William Shakespeare, already felt your pain when he penned these immortal lines; “parking is such sweet sorrow…”.
Of course, some sorrowful folks overlook the fact that plentiful free parking is available on behind the stores on both sides of King Street.
These folks feel that is their absolute right to park for free right in front of the store they want to visit downtown.
These same folks think nothing of walking long distances outside in Mall parking lots and inside down long corridors.
Sighs.

Pablo

Yeah. And how long will it be until gates are installed so the town can charge for parking there too? Sighs.

Albert

Ridiculous!

Dubious

For many years on-street parking in downtown Cobourg was free. Pay parking is just another example of downtown merchants fighting to eliminate their clientele.

Walter L. Luedtke

And here I thought that you CTA folks were all in favour of “user pay”.
But maybe only if you don’t have to pay?

Dubious

King Street parking is irrelevant; my bank has their own parking lot. If the merchants choose to discourage potential customers that is their decision.

Walter L. Luedtke

So “user pay” is only for other folks.
Good to know!

Dubious

User pay is for those who use something. I don’t use King Street parking so your comment is immaterial.

manfred s

how much control over this do you think the merchants actually have, Dubious? Maybe you could ask them and see what they think about this, instead of saying something so silly.

Dubious

The previous time that parking meters came to King St the reaction of the merchants was a little different. See page 9 of the newsletter at https://cdhs.ca/images/newsletters/NewsletterSep14.pdf Why were they so docile this time?

manfred s

while you are certainly free to make the assumption that they were ‘so docile this time’, it may well be an erroneous one, Dubious. The relavent discussions between the Town and the DBIA we’re not reported upon so it’s hard to say how docile or vigorous they may have been. What is sure is that the Town will always get their way, and we know what that ‘way’ was because of the result. One bit of speculation is that the Town demanded a certain amount of revenue from the parking spaces downtown and the DBIA could not come up with the ransom, which at some point in the past had been as much as $25,000 a year to keep meters off the streets. The default would then have been the installation of meters. We should note that as a result, meters were installed, BUT not just in the retail area proper. They we’re also installed around the park and other non-retail areas, something the merchants would likely not be involved with. That also serves as a clue as to the actual motivation for installing meters. But hey, who’s to know the truth of it. As a merchant at the time,… Read more »

Walter Luedtke

Seems to me that parking meters are one way of rationing a scarce commodity – downtown parking. Nothing more.

Dubious

I suspect that your analysis is correct. It is curious that the DBIA chose to remain silent instead of blaming the guilty as in the previous parking meter installation. What was their benefit?

manfred s

in the article you cite, Dubious, the merchants who spoke out were actually members of the then Chamber of Commerce, a voluntary and paid membership representing their organization and not necessarily the entire merchant body in the downtown. This time it was the DBIA, a mandatory unpaid membership that by mandate, must represent the entire business sector downtown. In the first case, it was likely that those involved were so by virtue of their voluntary membership and therefore were all in agreement with the position being put forward while in the present day case, there was a division between those who supported the position that they could not afford the ransom and those who felt the Town left them no choice but to pay it. Since the DBIA is mandated to represent all the businesses downtown equally, it was in a very difficult position, and speaking out meant misrepresenting at least a portion of the membership. It was probably the only fair thing to do by remaining publicly silent and let the Town do what it was going to do regardless. Publicly blaming and shaming the organization to which you are ultimately responsible and dependant on to some degree is… Read more »

manfred s

John, your comment suggests that the DBIA was the one “who decided to put the meters back on King Street” but the fact is that the DBIA made 2 points at the time, namely, “That the Board intended to retain the annual parking subsidy it pays to the Town in the amount of $25,000.00 as of 2014.” and “That the Board encourages the Town to pursue paid parking options with the objective of a parking program that is fiscally self-sufficient.” Encouraging the town to pursue “paid parking OPTIONS”, while those options would likely include meters, they are by no means a suggestion nor a limitation to putting meters on King and Division Streets. It could well have included meters in many other public spaces such as at Pads one and two, the CCC, the dog park and around parks themselves, to mention a few. It is also clear that the DBIA felt that its mandate did not include replacing parking revenue (which is borne out by the legislated purpose of the DBIA) that could be derived from paid parking and hence its intent to keep the annual contribution for its intended and mandated uses. It appears to me that the… Read more »

Dubious

Manfred, it may have been reasonable for the DBIA to approve paid parking on behalf of its members. However, did any individual merchant object using letters to the editor of our two papers at the time, delegations before Council or…?

manfred s

I have no idea, Dubious. I registered my objection and concerns with the Board, but I was under no illusion about the result, having experienced negotiations with the Town pertaining to similar and other matters. That’s not to say that all such negotiations had been difficult in the past, but they certainly hold the upper hand in all cases.

manfred s

Walter, have you ever wondered why, in this day and age of “user pay”, NONE of the sports facilities that provide parking have any fees directly paid by the users? In the case of the CCC, which has a helluva lot of parking, the “costs associated with providing parking” are obviously buried in the operating expenses which are highly subsidized by public money. The sports facilities are not used by anything close to 100% of the general public even although they are open to them, like the streets downtown. Does it make sense, in the issue of fairness, to handle these parking costs differently from others?

Walter L. Luedtke

Good point Manfred!
Perhaps the CCC should collect parking fees. Would surely help with operating costs.
I was coming at this from another direction.
The same folks who don’t like ‘user pay’ when it comes to parking meters, insist on it when it comes to the marina.
Go figure!

Rob

Parking at the CCC is utterly atrocious and any fee collected would and should give rise to a string of complaints….I believe the facility was planned, designed and built without any consideration for parking in particular when hosting a large scale event (i.e. concerts, hockey tournaments, etc..)

I also don’t think “they” consulted with anyone who has ever played hockey or been a hockey parent given the height of the shower heads in the bathroom, the embarrassingly undersized, under staffed and under scheduled canteen (improvements have been made and are recognized), size of the pro-shop (best sharpening in town however) and other practical short comings…

manfred s

nevertheless Rob, the parking is still subsidized by public money, not paid directly by the users. And that’s the point about how parking is a political matter rather than an equality issue. Town politicians don’t have the moxy to apply the rules fairly accross the board for fear of the backlash if they did. They do, though, use it as a club to keep some organizations in line and avoid criticism of their policies.

manfred s

I’m thinking the ‘terminology’ sometimes makes things more or less palatable, regardless of the root reason. Go figure that too. Hell, it’s what politicians play at all the time, and we the great unwashed just believe the parts we like and bitch about everything else. Parking or ‘convenience’ fees really are no different in my view. So, in all of this parking stuff, where do we find the middle ground, the proverbial ‘fence’ for them to sit on? At this point, they just point at someone and say ‘it’s their (DBIA) fault’. lordy ,lordy

manfred s

Walter, what if we looked at it from a perspective of meters collecting ‘convenience fee’? The shorter the distance between parking spot and destination, the higher the convenience fee. Spots far enough away, or less convenient, have no fees attached. badaboom, badabing

Walter L. Luedtke

I like it!

Barry

Glad to hear that this person was shopping in Cobourg, to bad about the parking ticket…but everyone plays by the same rules regardless whether you are a tourist or a resident…if your parking meter is expired…you will probably get a ticket. It’s the same in most every town…its not necessarily a big revenue stream for the Town of Cobourg but it does stop people from “squatting” their car all day on a business street…and whether your local purchase was a $100 shirt or a $3 cup of coffee…that’s not relevent…your meter expired…..you pay the fine…next time add an extra 25 cents to the meter.

Dubious

Or shop at the mall.

Walter L. Luedtke

Of course, parking at the mall is “free”?
The construction, cleaning, snow ploughing and maintenance of the parking lots are done by volunteer dwarves who magically appear at night.
Go take an Economics 101 course and explore the concept of “the free lunch”!

Dubious

Ridiculous! I assume that you never passed Eco101.
The parking lot maintenance is part of the rent paid by the mall merchants and eventually is added to the price of the merchandise sold or results in a reduced profit for the merchant. The price of the merchandise is what I pay; downtown I pay the marked price + separate parking charges. However, the important difference is that the mall shops are open when I want to shop plus there is a grocery store.

Rosemary C Avery Mrs Jenkins

l totally agree = some years ago in small town in the U.S – not noticing parking meter box we enjoyed our lunch on returning to our vehicle was a note “guess you didn’t see the meter box – but that’s ok – enjoy our town and come again – subsequent to that experience we stopped each and every time we travelled we stopped at this friendly town – also in Peterborough – while working l noticed a bock away the “meter man” l indicated l was coming – possibly looking a bit frantic – only to be told “you are ok we allow 20 minutes overtime – guess what = l shop in Peterborough

Frank

A similar thing happened to us in Picton a few years ago. It sticks in your memory.

Resident

The tourist centre in Port Hope gave us a free parking pass so could enjoy lunch before house hunting, nice touch that we appreciated.

Hillary

Driving to Peterborough to shop for an extra 20 minutes parking overtime?
Good plan!

Pablo

When I moved to Northumberand County from T.O. ten years ago, one of the charming things about Cobourg was the fact that there were no parking meters on King Street. Parking spots were readily available, and it was easy to park, shop and stroll the town’s main street without having to pay for parking, or fear of getting a ticket. This was a true novelty for someone from the city. Although I do not live “in town”, I am a frequent visitor to Cobourg, and am a regular patron of many of its businesses, and do not consider myself a “tourist”. Since parking meters were installed I find myselt venturing downtown less and less. It is far easier and cheaper to park at the mall or Walmart. I do not know the exact reasons the town’s braintrust decided to install parking meters. I suspect it was seen as a “revenue tool” by the municipality (cash grab, more like) who were undoubtedly egged on by grumpy downtown residents intent on deterring hoards of “outsiders” from visiting Cobourg’s local businesses. I hope the DBIA, Mayor and town council read this post and take notice of the fact that it is not just… Read more »

Hillary

“Brain trust and cash grab and hordes/hoards and nickel and dimed to death”!
Welcome to this blog. There are lots of your lot here already.

Pablo

And your comments mean what exactly?
That my opinions (and those of my “lot”) are irrelevant?
You must be one of those grumpy downtown residents I referenced..

cornbread

Glad to see our Parking Staff do their job. To bad our Police Force can’t catch a few of our Red Light\Stop Sign runners at University & William…While stopped at this light yesterday, four cars ran the red light for a right turn to go north on William. Running stop signs seems to be a passion in this town.

Durka

I wasn’t there to witness what you are talking about but it is legal to turn right on a red unless otherwise stated.

cornbread

They did not come to a stop first, then proceed.

Durka

I wouldn’t exactly call that running a red light. To me someone who’s runs a red light does so at full speed. It’s all semantics I suppose but I’m not even sure the cops would pull someone over who rolls through a red while making a right.

Ken

Durka, you have to come to a ‘complete stop’, before continuing right on a red light….and only if it safe to do so. 🙂

Rusty Brown

“…ran the red light” ? Meaning they didn’t come to a complete stop before making the right turn on a red light?
My complaint about that corner concerns the cab driver who pulled out onto William northbound and crossed one lane and went directly into the far lane. Whoa! Where did you learn to drive?

Ken

We all know that there are more and more people, young and old, that have lost the concept of how to operate a motorized vehicle correctly. I blame it on many things, but do not want to take up too much space on this wonderful ‘blog’ site, to explain myself. We are talking about ‘parking infractions’!
As far as the police missing all of these ‘traffic infractions’, I wonder if it is time to dissolve our police force and have the OPP look after things? More of a cost, but maybe a better service?

Rusty Brown

I concur fully. As for “…the police missing all of these ‘traffic infractions”: for years I watched drivers make a right turn on a red light out of Munroe St. from No Frills and The Beer Store to go north on Division, right under a sign that indicated “No Right Turn on Red Light”. Where the cops all this time?
They have since redesigned the intersection and right turns on red are now allowed.

Ken

That reminds me of the old joke….’if you need a cop, in a hurry, look in behind the nearest Tim Hortons’……no offence intended.

Kyle

I guess I forgot to wear my small town costume when I was downtown and kneel to passing tourists yelling, “thank you, thank you, kind tourists”. With out stretched arms. “Thank you for your alms and Please return.”

Deb O'Connor

I have tried multiple times to “like” Kyle’s comment, to no avail, yet someone else has successfully given it a “thumbs down”. Odd!
May I, in lieu of a “like”, offer this wonderful poem by Canadian poet F.R. Scott?. It’s been a favourite of mine for many years.

TOURIST TIME
This fat woman in canvas knickers
Gapes seriously at everything.
We might be a city of the dead.
Or cave men
Instead of simple town folk.
We have nothing to show
That cannot be seen better somewhere else,
Yet for this woman the wonder does not cease.
Madam, the most extraordinary thing in this town
Is the shape of your legs.
O communication!
O rapid transit.

Albert

Uh Oh!
Bit of ‘fat shaming poetry’ here. Doesn’t even rhyme.
But since we are at it.
Q: What do men and parking spaces have in common?
A: The good ones are all gone and the free ones are too small.
Runs.

Wally Keeler

F.R. Scott was in attendance at the Montreal launch of my first book of poetry, Walking On the Greenhouse Roof. It was also attended by Louis Dudek, Hugh MacLennan, and Dr Alec Lucas, McGill U illuminati.