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Sparks fly over continuing parking challenges at recreation complex

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 17th, 2024

There have been increasing parking challenges at the city’s recreation complex, with the latest chapter relating to the electric vehicle charging station.

The electric vehicle (EV) parking station, located at the southeast corner of the lot, was installed around five years ago near the Nelson and District Recreation Complex (NDCC), in an already cramped and overtaxed parking lot.

As a result, non-electric vehicles have been parked in the six spots available at the charging station because parking elsewhere is at a premium — or downright scarce — in the NDCC lot. The question of enforcement of parking restriction in those spots to keep it solely available for electric vehicle charging was posed to City council.

Coun. Keith Page — who also sits as the Recreation 5 commission chairperson that oversees recreational services on site — said parking challenges of all stripes were recognized at the location a number of years ago, prompting the RDCK to contract the City of Nelson bylaw department to do periodic checks during the daytime hours — around 7.5 hours.

It was observed that the NDCC parking lot has had many downtown patrons using the lot — which serves the complex, curling rink and the Civic Centre arena — as a free source of parking. As well, many of the workers at the ongoing construction projects in the downtown area have been flagged for using the lot as a daytime dump for their vehicles while they toiled on the job.

“So there have also been the same challenges around the EV chargers,” said Page, noting the strip of land where the EV chargers sat was all City of Nelson land versus the greater RDCK parking lot serving the recreation campus.

“When bylaw is down there they do check” the charging stations, Page added. “But the big issue is … during busy nights at the arena when there are lots of (parking) challenges.”

The City’s bylaw officers have been ticketing those who have been parked for more than two hours in the lot, keeping an eye on the use of the electric vehicle charging station parking stalls. But the City doesn’t have bylaw officers come through after 4:30 p.m.

There has been some communication with the RDCK over signage, warning drivers of non-electric vehicles that the vehicles would be towed at the owner’s expense if parked in the charging station spots.

Mayor Janice Morrison said it wasn’t just a free spot to park for electric vehicles.

“(J)ust because you own an EV, you are not supposed to park in front of that (station) unless you are charging your EV,” she said. “And that has also been problematic where we have seen EV vehicles parked in front of those even if they aren’t charging. It’s not a free space if you happen to be driving an EV.”

City manager Kevin Cormack said there was existing signage instructing people that their vehicles would be towed if they were not using the parking spots for charging electric vehicles. He said the City could look at enforcement options on the site, including allowing tow truck companies to “tow at will” if vehicles were spotted illegally parked in the spots.

“We just need a couple of people’s cars to be towed away before people stop parking there,” he said.

Categories: General

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