Winnipeg poised to crack down on vehicles abandoned on city streets

The City of Winnipeg is poised to crack down on the practice of using residential streets as long-term parking spots.

Parking authority proposes towing cars left in same spot for 10 days, rather than 3 weeks

Winnipeg is poised to reduce the time you can leave in the same spot to cut down on the number of abandoned vehicles, such this one left on a Bridgwater Lakes residential street in February. (Submitted by Janice Lukes)

The City of Winnipeg is poised to crack down on the practice of using residential streets as long-term parking spots.

A new report by the Winnipeg Parking Authority recommends reducing the number of days a vehicle can be left in same spot from three weeks to 10 days.

Cars left in the same spot longer than the allowable time frame can be towed.

The change is intended to free up more parking in residential neighbourhoods, make it easier to clear snow and ensure truly abandoned or inoperable vehicles get removed from city streets more quickly, the parking authority contends in a report to city council's public works committee.

"Limiting the number of days that a vehicle can remain parked on a street helps to increase parking availability by ensuring on-street spaces are accessible for use by residents and visitors," writes Lisa Vermette, the parking authority's regulation and compliance manager. 

"This is particularly helpful in denser neighbourhoods and new developments, which contain less on-street parking per capita than other areas of the city."

Vermette also notes getting rid of cars more quickly will reduce the costs associated with snow removal and ensure snow-clearing is conducted more thoroughly.

"Furthermore, prohibiting the storage of wrecked or otherwise inoperable vehicles on city streets improves safety for local residents and helps to maintain the appearance of the streetscape," she said.

By allowing cars to stay in the same spot for three weeks, Winnipeg is something of an outlier among Canadian cities.

The report notes Vancouver only allows parking for two consecutive weeks, Toronto only tolerates one week and both Edmonton and Calgary will tow vehicles left in the same spot for three full days.

Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West), who asked the parking authority to consider ways to reduce the number of abandoned vehicles left on the city streets, called the change to a 10-day parking maximum a good start.

She got particularly fed up this past winter, which was unusually snowy.

"Some vehicles weren't ever moving. They became one with the snow bank," she said.

"Because we had so much snow, we really, really noticed a lot of vehicles just use the street as a parking lot."

As it stands, the city can also be called to immediately tow unregistered vehicles left on a streets and cars that are destroyed, dismantled or stripped. The new report also calls for an expanded definition of an inoperable vehicle to include those left sitting with a flat tire or a defect that prevents them from legally being driven.

The proposed changes come before council's public works committee on Thursday. They also face approval from executive policy committee and council as a whole later this month.


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