Letter to the Editor: Long-term parking

Dear Mr Elliot, Mr Mayor and Councillors

I am very concerned about the lack of ANY long-term parking bylaws in Tumbler Ridge and particularly regarding the 16 mine trucks that have been left for months in the large parking lot beside the Visitor Center. This is for two reasons: first, I see this as abusing a privilege; that is, trusting that your neighbour will not take unfair advantage of a situation; and second, as inappropriate use of District (that is, we the taxpayers) land and facilities.

As a business with an office close by, it makes sense to expect parking spaces available to you…but 16?? If all the businesses and offices currently being occupied in the TR core took 16 spots each, I am sure both Shop Easy and Visitor Centre parking lots would be full with no room for customers or tourists.

Also, if a vehicle is left long term in a lot, who is responsible if it is damaged? Is it the District (read: we taxpayers)? Doesn’t it make more sense to move them to the mine where they would be in a controlled parking area? (And I understand that this same issue is currently a problem with an “abandoned” vehicle on a residential street in town; that is, no bylaw to control it while the District is liable if damage is done).

I have read the zoning bylaw regarding parking spots for businesses and I was told that the Credit Union is paying for 10 undesignated spots. So is the mine paying for 16? And does it make sense that these spots become a storage area for vehicles that are not moved for months? Perhaps we should be reimbursing the Credit Union for all the years they have paid for 10 spots when they didn’t need that many and they were empty?

As an extension to this, what is to stop visitors from camping in the parking lot(s) for as long as they want without paying a cent? I was told this has happened and we (the District) had no authority (via a bylaw) to ask them to leave. This is very short-sighted indeed, especially with the new Global Geopark designation plus the proposals for a number of new mines and windmill projects in the area.

I am not just being peevish about some parking spaces being taken up. I had a friend visit from out of town and we went to the Visitor Centre to collect hiking maps. There were no parking spots available anywhere close to the Centre so I had to park on the far side of the lot. She said that if she had been in her own vehicle and seen the lot so full she would not have stopped at all. This could apply to any visitor arriving in town. NOT a good thing!

When I called City Hall and later spoke with the Bylaw Officer I was told, “We can’t do anything. There are no bylaws.” This is not a good enough answer. If we are thinking to the future, we need to draft a coherent policy since this lack of bylaw also applies to the Shop Easy parking lot and, presumably, the new Visitor Centre lot as well. I am not suggesting no long-term parking, but certainly it can be restricted and I suggest the downtown core is not an ideal place for it. Perhaps designate only a certain number of spots well out of the way of daytime users; start charging after, say, 36 or 48 hours; and definitely no camping. And perhaps if a vehicle is to be parked longer than 5 or 7 days (to allow for, say, a multi-day hike), it has to move to a spot somewhere else (rent a spot from a local business in the industrial area or…?).

I am suggesting drafting something that is fair for everyone. Shoving matches and patchwork solutions never accomplish anything positive and we are ALL affected by this.

If Tumbler Ridge aims to become a world-class tourist destination, and if we expect industry to resume and grow as well, we need to be prepared for the influx. Now is the ideal time to address the issue, since it takes time to put together a thoughtful bylaw that works for everyone in the community.

Respectfully,

Roegan Lloydd