Calgary parks' popularity led to congestion, increase in unsafe parking
Some parks say 150% increase in parking tickets while others dropped
Unsafe and illegal parking spiked in the summer as Calgarians flocked to parks like Bowness, Sandy Beach and Edworthy, with up to an 150 per cent increase in parking tickets handed out in some place by the Calgary Parking Authority.
The CPA put the word out on social media, putting the word about parking congestion especially in destinations like Edworthy, Shouldice and Sandy Beach on hot days.
"This led to congestion and regrettably, an increase in non-compliance and unsafe parking," read a statement from Todd Sullivan, CPA coordinator for parking safety and compliance. "The city has ensured that areas are clearly marked and plenty of signage is in place to safeguard emergency access routes."
Data provided by the parking authority shows most infractions were handed out in Bowness and Sandy Beach this summer.
In August, Sandy Beach parking problems spiked. There were 257 tickets handed out this August — compared to 101 in 2019, a more than 150 per cent increase.
Andi Kowalski, who headed to Sandy Beach a couple of weeks ago, said it was packed.
"We struggled to get parking for over a half an hour before we all gave up and ended up parking in the residential area at the top of the hill," she said.
One of the causes of traffic jams gumming up the narrow, dusty, roadway were rafters walking down the road, instead of the nearby pathway.
Kowalski said once in the park itself, things were just as busy.
"As soon as you got down to the beach, there was no social distancing at all," she said. "Everybody was crammed in there and their children running around everywhere and trying to launch the raft from that spot was very, very difficult."
CPA officers were deployed to hotspots in order to raise awareness and promote compliance.
"CPA was contacted by city Parks and Recreation to attend and enforce in situations where emergency response team vehicles were unable to gain access to park facilities for rescue efforts," read a statement from a spokesperson.
Josh Bettle visited Pearce Estate Park this summer. He and his family go pretty often, mostly by bike. But a couple of weeks ago he was driving there instead.
"We just happened to luck out," Bettle said. "We got a good spot a little closer to the park because somebody had just pulled out when we got in there."
Because of its proximity to Harvie Passage, Bettle said when he and his family packed up to leave they saw a number of creatively parked cars, with people unloading kayaks and other water vessels.
CPA data shows parking infractions over the last three years have been consistently low at Pearce Estate Park — this summer in August only five tickets were handed out. In total, between January and August, a total of nine tickets were issued in the parking lot.
One of the surprises this summer was the lot near Prince's Island Park, where the bulk of summer infractions typically crack more than 100 tickets in July and August. But this summer infractions reached a high of just 59 in July.
Now, the Calgary Parking Authority is focused on the return to school.
"We are reminding drivers to be mindful of 'no parking' and 'no stopping' areas reserved for school bus drop off and pick up and to be sure they are leaving five metres access when parking near crosswalks, bus stops, fire hydrants," read a statement from Sullivan. "Also, it's important to be respectful of residents living near schools — please don't block private driveways."