Some 34 per cent more parked vehicles were ticketed in Red Deer last winter for being left on residential streets during snow plowing.
City councillors heard that 3,249 tickets were issued, including 205 vehicles being towed.
Red Deer city administrators were perplexed by the jump. A report to council on Wednesday stated there’s no obvious reason that a third more motorists failed to remove their cars or trucks from roadways to allow for snow plowing.
Various methods are being used by the city to inform Red Deerians of plowing schedules. These include placing dynamic signs at the entrances to neighbourhoods, and electronically contacting residents who sign up for Notify Red Deer.
Coun. Lawrence Lee made a motion asking administrators to “think outside the box” and come up with various strategies for reducing the number of tickets that need to be given out for parked vehicles.
Council was told thousands of dollars could be saved if everybody moved their cars off the roads when needed. Time is money, said Lee, so more cars left on streets creates delays and less efficient plowing.
Residents now pay a $135 fine for leaving their cars on green routes and $85 if they leave them on grey routes.
If these tickets are paid promptly, the amounts go down to $100 or $65.
Public works manager Greg Sikora speculated some Red Deerians are willing to pay these amounts rather than find other provisions for their vehicles.
Coun. Michael Dawe agreed with this, noting some cars are left parked curbside on his street all winter long.
“Quadrupling the fines” would be the easiest way to get all parked vehicles off the streets, said city manager Allan Seabrooke — but that’s not his recommendation.
Mayor Tara Veer also stressed this isn’t the answer. She said council previously decided it isn’t interested in raising fines or enacting any parking bans.
Lee and his council colleagues reaffirmed this position on Wednesday, noting a pandemic is not a good time to hit people, who may already be dealing with financial problems, with larger penalties.
In the end, the majority defeated Lee’s motion, stating there’s an ongoing expectation of administration to come up with better ways of doing things.
Although Sikora’s report on snow plowing indicated Red Deerians are mostly satisfied with the current service levels, there’s still dissatisfaction with snowy windrows, and mountains of snow left piled in cul de sacs.
Sikora reported it could cost an additional $5 million to remove all the snow from residential areas. And Veer said this additional expense is not feasible at this tight fiscal time.
The mayor suggested more consistency be achieved between winter plowing (which is largely announced on dynamic signs) and spring sweeping, which uses sandwich boards on affected streets.
Coun. Ken Johnston urged residents to help the city keep costs down by moving parked vehicles when needed. But he also noted that only three per cent of vehicles are being left on streets, indicating a 97 per cent compliance rate.
Johnston believes the real answer is getting more people to sign up for Notify Red Deer electronic messaging on the city’s website, so they know when snow plows are coming.