Temporary Stampede parking ban catches motorists by surprise

On Stampede parade morning, motorists downtown woke up to a surprise: missing vehicles and a long line at the impound lot.

On parade morning, drivers wake up to towed vehicles, long line at the impound lot

A temporary parking ban sign warns motorists to remove cars from the parade zone. Some motorists were caught by surprise. (Helen Pike/CBC)

On Stampede parade morning, motorists downtown woke up to a surprise: missing vehicles and a long line at the impound lot. 

According to the Calgary Parking Authority, 48 vehicles were towed to the impound lot and 42 were taken to nearby streets as a result of the annual parade. This, after temporary no-parking signs were placed.

Enforcement officers checked that the temporary signs were up at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, according to the parking authority.

But some of those facing fines aren't impressed. Commiserating in line to get his car back, Armin Keymaram said drivers were agreed: the no-parking signs didn't go up in time, or were zip-tied to poles overnight — after many who live in the area already had parked and gone home.

Mark Harris drove in from Brooks, Alta. for a Stampede event, and parked on a street at 2 a.m. He says he didn't see any signs, and the street was full of cars. In the morning, his car had been towed. (Helen Pike/CBC)

"I parked there, like always," Keymaram said. "The sign says I can park there until 9 a.m. and after that I have to pay for it."

But he said when he headed down to go to work at 7 a.m. his car was gone. He called the CPA and was told it was towed to the impound lot. 

"I realised that there was a new sign over there," he said.

Mark Harris drove in from Brooks, Alta. to perform as part of an event celebrating Stampede. He said when he parked his car, at 2 a.m., the streets were still lined with vehicles.

Then, in the morning he went to go get his vehicle outside the Hilton Hotel — and it was gone. 

Costly mistake

He headed to the impound lot.

"I walked in and there was a long line," Harris said. "One guy had been there for three hours and the first guy said 'welcome to the party'."

He's coughing up more than $200 for the mistake, and says it won't be worth his time to come back and appeal it. 

The city posted information about the 2019 Stampede parade road closures online with a list of road closures for parade set-up and the main event.

Calgary Parking Authority had a post about impacts to surface parking lots. There was also a warning that on-street parking along the route would not be accessible in the morning, but would become free for use again in the afternoon.

The CPA says motorists can appeal tickets if they feel there was an error. 

But both Keymaram and Harris say they won't be fighting their tickets — because they risk racking up more costs in the process at the impound lot and renting a vehicle while the process plays out.

With files from Helen Pike


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