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Letter: Have you ever paid too much to park?

Coquitlam resident Heinz Stein starts petition to lobby against unjust charging practices for public parking.

The Editor:

My pet peeve is estimated time parking.

I feel like it is bordering on outright criminal that multi-million dollar organizations are permitted to operate ungoverned with their fee-charging practices.

On Dec. 24, I parked in Horseshoe Bay at the Impark parking lot.

I needed 28 hours of parking to go to Gibsons for a Christmas dinner; however, the pre-pay meters only go buy the hour up to 24 hours then switch to full days after that first 24 hours is complete.

I needed 28 hours of parking but had to buy two full days of parking instead of just adding those four extra hours. That's outright criminal.

Impark can sell that spot over and over again for time already paid. I thought double dipping is illegal?

While sitting on the ferry it came to me that it would have been cheaper to drive my car onto the ferry. I am sure many people already came to that conclusion. It definitely contributes to overloaded ferries not to mention the environmental implications of more people driving unnecessarily.

I had the same experience at the Port Moody hospital with estimated time payments.

Going to the emergency is stressful enough yet it adds to the stress level having to know exactly how much time you need for parking.

Impark covers the whole Lower Mainland but I am sure there are other companies with the same practice. The government should regulate this kind of double charging.

At the Vancouver airport charging is calculated when exiting the parking lot. That should be everywhere. I am 81 years old and on a fixed income. Many of us can't afford to pay these huge companies unnecessarily because of unjust charging practices.

Here is an example: On Jan. 13, I had to go to the Eagle Ridge Hospital. I drove around quite a bit because there were no spots available. Eventually a car pulled out and I took that spot. Not knowing exactly how long I would be in the hospital I pre-paid for two hours. But I came back after 55 minutes therefore, I paid one hour that I did not need.

As I had mentioned, it was very busy and a car was already waiting to take my spot. Obviously he paid again for the spot I already had paid for. In other words, they collected twice for the same service. Maybe even three times because I don’t know how long the spot was paid for when I got there.

Alternatively, the Vancouver Airport is using a fair parking system. When entering, you retrieve a printed ticket from a machine with an electromagnetic strip where your arrival time is recorded. Just before leaving you go to a machine and make your payment. That machine calculates the time and you pay for time spent. There is no personnel required. Also, they don’t need personnel to check on cars whether they paid or not because nobody can enter without a ticket or leave without payment. There is also no penalty for unpaid parking.

On the other hand, Impark, with their unfair practices, need people (in vehicles) to drive from lot to lot and check license plates to make sure they paid. These are ongoing costs unlike the one-time fee to set up the infrastructure required that you would see at the airport. This adds to their cost for staff and vehicles to patrol the lots which is not environmentally friendly. But I assume that cost is covered by double charging and tickets written to people who arrive late. The same Impark parking method you will find at UBC.

I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a complaint about the hourly or daily rates: It is a complaint that in most cases one cannot tell how long that parking spot is needed and there is no flexibility or allowance for that.

I did send this matter to 36 B.C. MLAs. Most of them took the easy way out and simply commented that if I am not in their riding I am out of luck. Don’t they realize that their voters are impacted by the same unjust charges?

However, six of them responded indicating that I had raised and interesting point and they would discuss it with their colleagues. I wonder why this has not been brought up by the general public. I am sure that just about everybody who drives have been subject to paying unnecessary and borderline illegal fees.

One MLA said it’s in Impark’s contract. If the practise of guessing time for parking is indeed illegal that contract should be null and void.

I am happy to discuss this matter further, and many people I talk to are in agreement, so I have started a petition that you can find at this link:

Heinz Stein, Coquitlam