Calgary's parking permit changes frustrate contractor who got 4 tickets

Contractor Kirby Glenn is frustrated with changes the city has implemented to its permit parking system, which he says could lead to increased costs for homeowners.

Changes require licence plate, limits on parking distance, notifying city ahead of time

Kirby Glenn, a residential contractor, is frustrated with the changes to Calgary's parking permit system, which requires his licence plate be submitted by the residence owner for each day he will be working on-site. (Reid Southwick/CBC)

A Calgary contractor is frustrated with changes the city has implemented to its permit parking system that he says could lead to increased costs for homeowners. 

When Kirby Glenn recently accepted a renovation job in University Heights, he expected the homeowner would give him a permit pass he could hang on his truck's rear-view mirror.

Instead, the woman who hired him said the city had a new system where she'd have to submit his licence plate each day he was working on site — but, as she was going on a vacation, she wouldn't be able to do that.

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So, Glenn started making calls.

"The frustrating part was just not having anyone on the phone that would give me information, starting from 311 not knowing where to send me," he told CBC News.

Finally, he was told it would take four to five days to process his request for a month-long permit.

By this point, he'd already received two $40 parking tickets, as he'd started the job. By the time he'd finished it a few weeks later, he'd received four total tickets and a plumber he subcontracted received one.

New parking system rolled out in August

Jennifer Whitaker, the communications and customer service manager for the Calgary Parking Authority, said the city began to roll out the new permit system in August. 

Visitors will have to park within 150 metres of the home they're visiting for the permit to work.

Homeowners who live in permit areas get two electronic permits for their own cars, and are allowed up to two visitor parking sessions at a time.

In order to avoid tickets, they have to register their visitor's parking sessions online or by calling the CPA directly. Whitaker says residents can extend any visitor parking session for up to two weeks at a time.

I think they have to plan ahead ... Typically our more experienced contractors know ahead of time.- Anthony El-araj , traffic leader of roadway operations and detours

She said the new system helps the city use photo enforcement in busy areas like downtown, near LRT stations and near universities.

"It's not to ticket, it's not to make money, this is not a revenue builder for us," she said. 

The new system, which will eventually apply to the 78 registered parking permit zones across Calgary, has been rolled out in half of the zones so far. 

Dozens of contractors, including Glenn, have contacted the city about the changes. 

Glenn said the city could have done better informing the public how the new system will work.

"I never even knew they were implementing this new system," Glenn said. 

Plan ahead of time, city says

If a resident needs a month-long permit for a contractor, it will take four business days to be processed.

If a contractor is nearing the end of a month and they need an extra few days to finish their job, then another call to the city is required.

"You'd essentially have to reapply in order to extend the permit," said Anthony El-araj, the traffic leader of roadway operations and detours group.

That means the same four-to-five-day wait for the second pass.

El-araj said homeowners can use their visitor passes for contractors for a few days, but if they need more than the allotted two passes they're out of luck.

"I think they have to plan ahead," he said. "They can request extra passes in advance. Typically our more experienced contractors know ahead of time."

Plumber ticketed during emergency call

Glenn spoke to a neighbour of the woman whose home he was working on.

The neighbour had a plumbing emergency and called a plumber. The plumber who responded to the last-minute call received a parking ticket.

"How do you get around that? Here you have your house possibly flooding ... do you wait until you go online and submit a licence plate number?"

Not only is Glenn worried about the cost to himself and homeowners, but says some contractors are refusing to work in parking permit neighbourhoods.

But the city says it's not a problem. 

"It's just a new system so it's going to take time for everyone to adapt, just like any new system," El-araj said. 

With files from Reid Southwick


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