New Brunswick

Lack of parking frustrates employees at Miramichi Pay Centre

As more staff move into the new office building that is home to Miramichi's pay centre, some are finding themselves in a bit of a parking crunch.

Lottery was used to assign parking spots for 300 out of 600 staff members

Finding a place to park has become an issue for staff at the new Miramichi Pay Centre. (Gail Harding/CBC)

As more staff move into the new office building that's home to Miramichi's pay centre, some are finding themselves in a bit of a parking crunch. 

The $85 million building was constructed to accommodate 600 staff, but has only enough parking spots for half of its employees.

A lottery was held to assign parking spots at the building's nearby parking lots. Those people that weren't lucky enough to get their names drawn, have been left scrambling to find an alternative location.

Local union representatives of the Miramichi Pay Centre spoke out about how frustrating it is for staff. 

"What we're hearing is just general frustration and stress and people constantly peeking out the windows if there's a tow truck," said Allison Light, a communications officer with Local 60011.

"Do I need to move my car? What if I have to go pick up my kid or I have to run errands? Where am I going to park when I get back?"

The pay centre has two parking lots, which can only be used by permit holders who pay a monthly usage fee.

Not fair to staff

Randy Howard, national president of Government Services Union, said the parking situation is not fair to staff at the centre.

He's still trying to find out if the lottery is going to be held on a rotational basis to give everyone a chance for a parking spot in the future. 

Indigo is a private company that looks after the parking lots at the Miramichi Pay Centre, which can only be used by permit holders. (Gail Harding/CBC)

"I haven't heard from the employer yet," Howard said, referring to Public Service and Procurement Canada. 

"Staff are saying they are displeased because they need to get to work. The office in the Miramichi is a transient work site." 

Howard said some union members are travelling from all over New Brunswick, some as far away as Moncton, Bathurst and northern New Brunswick.

Here in the town of Miramichi, public service employees are the only individuals that have to pay for parking to go to work.- Randy Howard, national president of Government Services Union

"They have no other alternative but to bring their vehicles to work." 

Meanwhile, Light said the parking issue consumes more of a person's work day than it needs to. 

"It can take away from the work day because you're spending all this time trying to sort out your drive for later that day or where you're going to park," she said.

"It's a headache, people are frustrated." 

But Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon said the city is working on temporary solutions to help deal with the parking issue. Those solutions are expected to be revealed soon. 

"We're working on the details and we're waiting for the management at the pay centre to get back to us as well, to help us figure out a couple of pieces of that," said Lordon.

"But I think they will provide absolutely some relief to this situation." 

Options coming

In the meantime, some staff at the pay centre have taken to parking on nearby city streets, something that violates a city bylaw. 

The service street leading into the pay centre has a number of no parking signs posted, something Howard said is not helpful. 

Lordon said vehicles parked on the nearby John Street, will not be ticketed as long as they are not parked near the residential area. 

Troy MacDonnell, first vice-president of Local 6011, said the logical solution is to permanently remove the no parking restrictions on the non-residential parts of John Street and the western addition to Victoria Avenue. 

Staff who weren't lucky enough to get a parking spot in the pay centre's parking lot have to find alternative places to park, including a nearby city street. (Gail Harding/CBC)
"There's a lot of parking there and if you use both sides of the street, the parking problem is gone." 

MacDonnell said while the city may tell staff there's lots of parking downtown, it's frustrating for them to walk along empty streets as they make their way to the pay centre. 

"It doesn't make any sense." 

Private parking

Another option is to develop a pay-per-use parking lot on a nearby piece of property on Victoria Street, owned by the Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home. If the lot were to be built, it would have just over 100 parking spots available to staff.

But Howard said making public service employees pay for parking is unfair.

"Here in the town of Miramichi, public service employees are the only individuals that have to pay for parking to go to work," he said.

"It's not fair at all. They should be able to park for free."