City considering removing ban on overnight parking

Afraid $30 fine encourages drunk driving

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Never fear " overnight parking is here.

London’s overnight ban on street parking may be lifted for a trial period from June 15 to Sept. 4.

Currently there’s a $30 fine for cars parked on streets between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., but some city councillors feel this encourages drinking and driving and makes the city less attractive to visitors.

“I don’t see what is so magical about those two hours,” said Bud Polhill, a city controller. “Everybody is grasping at straws for reasons why you can’t do this.”

Jerry Pribil, owner of Marienbad Restaurant and Chaucer’s Pub, believes lifting the ban would benefit the whole city.

“I think it would be good for downtown businesses especially,” Pribil said.

Opponents are “afraid that students will turn our streets into a parking lot,” said Paul Hubert, a London city councillor.

Hubert feels students are often blamed unfairly.

“Yes, [there are] a few knuckleheads, but why do we judge all of them by that standard?” Hubert said.

“We’re concerned about a lot of students blocking driveways,” said Harold Usher, a London city councillor and chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee.

The roads could become congested by cars left overnight, he added.

However, several councillors said there will be a 12-hour time limit on parking, which should prevent cars from being left on the streets for several days.

Councillors who opposed the ban lift were also concerned about how the streets will be cleaned if they’re filled with cars all night.

“The success of the summer trial depends on whether the people using it abuse it or not,” Usher said.

“The students that I know and deal with are not irrational,” said city councillor Cheryl Miller. “This will not turn the city of London into a parking lot.”

Miller said many other cities allow overnight parking and have avoided such problems.

While opponents said London relies on income from parking fines, several councillors believe the city can replace these fines with parking permits.

Councillor Judy Bryant suggested London look to cities like Toronto, which sells temporary parking permits.

“We don’t have a sophisticated enough parking permit system in London,” Bryant said.

“We want to encourage people to come downtown,” Hubert said.

“It would be a good public relations move to show visitors that we care,” said John Winston, general manager of Tourism London.

The suggestion to allow overnight parking for a trial period has passed through London City Council’s Environment and Transportation committee and will be debated in council April 16.

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