More than 60 people who had their eyes to the heavens for the solar eclipse were brought down to earth Monday when they returned to their cars and found they had been ticketed for illegal parking.

More than 60 parking tickets were issued by parking enforcement staff on Monday at McQuesten park during the solar eclipse viewing event.

Joe Carruthers, 28, one of the viewers who received a ticket, feels the city should have been more lenient and allowed people to have parked where they could find room, as long as it was done safely. 

'It's a once in a lifetime event that no one had been planning for.' - Joe Carruthers

Carruthers went to T. B. McQuesten Park on Upper Wentworth Street to view the eclipse with his family yesterday. It was an event hosted by the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers Association.

The Hamilton Mountain News says more than 1,000 people attended. When Carruthers went to find parking, everywhere he looked was full. When he finally did park, he knew his choice of spot was illegal, but claims that it was safe. 

"It's a once in a lifetime event that no one had been planning for. Of course there's going to be cars everywhere." 

Carruthers says those who were unable to park legally due to the lack of spots and had found ways to park safely, should not have been penalized as yesterday's event was a "natural phenomenon." 

"It did dampen my experience and possibly the experience of many others," said Carruthers. 

'I saw humanity come together'

In a Facebook post, Carruthers wrote about his disappointment: 

"Today I saw humanity come together and forget about North Korea, forget about Charlottesville, forget about Trump, forget about Trudeau … I saw black, white,brown just looking at the sky and religion didn't even matter. Today I saw humanity stepping back to enjoy the mystery that is humanity, and the city wants to ticket. This is terrible."

Solar Eclipse Parking

Joe Carruthers parked his black Jetta (left) across from 1160 block of Wentworth and received a parking ticket as he went to T.B. McQuesten park to watch the eclipse. (Joe Carruthers)

He feels the city should have let the parking offences go even if they were not the ones planning the event. 

"I feel the City of Hamilton should forgive [the tickets] because humanity is going to be human and stop to take [the eclipse] in, regardless of the laws," said Carruthers.

He was also upset by the lack of transit available to the event, and suspects that it was why many people had to bring their cars. 

The rules still apply

James Buffet of the City of Hamilton confirmed that 61 penalty notices were issued for vehicles parked in violation.

"The eclipse that took place on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 did not have any event organized by the City of Hamilton," said the manager of parking enforcement. 

Joe Carruthers

Joe Carruthers (photo from 2013) is upset with the City's parking enforcement for issuing tickets during Monday's solar eclipse. (Joe Carruthers)

"There were no exemptions in place and any vehicles within the City of Hamilton would need to abide by parking regulations or municipal by-laws if they were trying to observe the eclipse."

Carruthers says that while the event was not a city planned event, he feels the city should have expected the event to draw huge crowds and assisted the organizers by way of allowing special parking allowances or providing free transit, even if it was a last minute decision.

Buffet says that the organizers of the event did not reach out to the city to address possible parking concerns. 

"There were no events organized due to the eclipse that provided exemptions to parking regulations," said Buffet. 

Concern about others

Carruthers reached out to his ward councillors about the issue and subsequently had his ticket cancelled "as a one-time courtesy," according to an email sent to Carruthers from Buffet, with whom he had a discussion with about the matter. 

Buffet notes in his email to Carruthers:

"In future, situations like this, in the absence of a planned municipal event, residents and drivers should follow any applicable law, like parking."

Even though his ticket was cancelled, he still feels strongly about the issue for the other 60 people that had parking tickets issued yesterday. 

"Now my concern is for everyone else," he said.