New Brunswick

Saint John makes move on illegal parking lots

The City of Saint John has moved against owners of several unregistered parking lots.

Municipal enforcement staff on hand at several uptown lots as commuters arrive on Monday morning

Developer Paul Daeres and members of his family own four parking lots in Saint John that the city maintains are illegal. (CBC)

The City of Saint John has moved against owners of several unregistered parking lots.

Municipal enforcement staff were positioned early Monday at lots on Germain, Garden and Dorchester Streets as commuters arrived for work.

Four of the lots are owned by city developer Paul Daeres or members of his immediate family. Daeres says the city workers were asking questions of the motorists, some of whom then called him.

In one incident, Daeres phoned police about an inspector talking to motorists at a lot he owns on Dorchester Street.

"Looks to me like harassment," said Daeres.

Daeres admits the lots are not in compliance with city bylaws, but says the property tax bill he receives for two Germain Street lots actually list the properties as "parking lots."

He says the lots have been used for parking for more than 30 years.

Something's not right. It don't look like democracy to me.- Paul Daeres, developer

"Something's not right," said Daeres, "It don't look like democracy to me."

In mid-September, city council authorized legal action against the owners of five unregistered parking lots after receiving a report from city staff. The owners of 31 other lots are now in discussions with the city to bring their properties into compliance.

Daeres received from the city's chief building inspector that orders him to cease the use of a Germain Street property as a parking lot. It notes Daeres had earlier agreed to provide the city with a site plan to change a portion of the property to a smaller lot for "incidental parking" for buildings he owns at 157-159 Germain St. The city letter says "no such plan was received."

Daeres said he hopes to use a section of his Germain Street lots for tenants or visitors to the residential property next door.

"Give us time," said Daeres. "I've got post-dated cheques, and I've got prepaid customers — three months to eight months. I can't kick them out, it's a contract."

City council pushed for the crackdown on unregistered parking lots, making no secret it is trying to reduce what Coun. Gerry Lowe calls "illegal" competition for the municipally-owned Peel Plaza Parking garage, which is often less than one quarter occupied.

The city parking commission charges $113 for a monthly parking pass there.  Daeres charges $65 monthly to park in his Germain Street lot, which is roughly the same distance as Peel Plaza from uptown office buildings and retail outlets.

The city is saying little about Monday's parking blitz. In an email, spokeswoman Lisa Caissie said "I can confirm that as part of Common Council's parking lot compliance program, enforcement staff were out conducting inspections on various sites this morning."

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