That sweet parking spot in front of your house? You don't own it, so chill out

Dan Onischuk has been in a 20-year battle to stake claim over the street parking in front of his home.

Parking spot poachers are doing nothing illegal but timeless street fight rages on

Homeowners will go to great lengths to claim the street parking in front of their properties. (Imgur)

Dan Onischuk has been in a 20-year battle to stake claim over the street parking in front of his home.

The Rossdale resident has a sense of ownership over the piece of pavement, but says his neighbours have no respect.

He wants the city to revamp its bylaws to give Edmontonians first dibs on spots in front of their home.

'Golden rule should apply'

"It's a level of stress that shouldn't be there. These people have just as much space to park," Onischuk said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

"In fact, they have far more space because of their garages, driveways and their frontage but they continue to abuse us, and that's the problem."

"The golden rule should apply — do unto others as you would like them to do unto you — but that doesn't seem to sink in." 

Onischuk is not alone in his territorial frustration. 

Edmonton residents don't own the road space in front of their house but every year, the city fields dozens of complaints from property owners looking to stake a permanent claim over the street.

"We get a lot of residential complaints about the person next door, or the person across the street parking in front of their property, and we tell them the same message — it's a public road right-of-way and for use for everybody," said Brian Murphy, manager of parking assets for the city.

"That's the way it is when you live in a big city and you have public roads all over the place.

"You can park anywhere you want to on the public roads, unless it's signed."

'That's the way it is' 

Edmonton bylaws stipulate that unless the vehicle is abandoned or there are parking restrictions identified by a sign or other traffic control device, everyone has a right to park on city-owned streets. A vehicle is only considered abandoned after 72 hours.

There are some residential parking permit zones but they are limited to designated, high-demand areas. 

While there is nothing illegal about parking in front of a neighbour's home, the battle for prime parking real estate often creates conflict between neighbours.

There are many ways to lay claim to the paved paradise in front of your home. 

In Calgary, a man gained infamy after he bought three old beat-up trucks, parked them permanently in front of his house to block off his neighbours' access, and called the local CBC morning show to brag about it.

During Chicago winters, people are known to put lawn chairs, traffic cones and even mannequins to claim the spots they've shovelled out. 

Frustrated homeowners will go to great lengths to scare off parking poachers.

In Edmonton, Murphy said, the most commonly used parking-protection deterrents are unsanctioned, profanity-laden signs intended to keep unwanted vehicles away.

"Some of them will put up a no-parking sign. They have a big 'P' with a big cross through it," Murphy said with a chuckle.

"I've also seen ones where they have it in two different languages, one which is more explicit than the other.

"The private property signs they're putting out have no meaning. They're not enforceable at all."

Onischuk said he often sticks notes on the windshields of unwelcome vehicles — but they keep coming back.

The dispute with his neighbours has turned nasty, he said, and police have been called to his door more than once.

"The City of Edmonton bears a large burden of this responsibility because it's not just happening to me," Onischuk said.

"There's a large group of citizens that are obviously vulnerable to these kind of people that are disrespectful and don't have any consideration for others.

"I think that's fundamentally wrong. Bylaws should be there to protect us." 

With files from Madeleine Cummings


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?