Almost a month into a new year on the job (his ninth at this point), Carbonear municipal enforcement officer (MEO) has high hopes — albeit, hopes tempered by his understanding of reality.
“Hopefully for this year coming up, I don’t issue any parking tickets for crosswalks or fire lanes, but we know that’s not going to happen,” he said during a recent sit-down interview with The Compass.
One part of his role with the town is to enforce municipal regulations with respect to parking, and judging by numbers compiled for 2018, Parsons was active. He issued 144 tickets last year, a figure he reckons is on par with previous years —Parsons said that number could be higher or lower by 20-30 tickets from year to year.
Most of those violations centre around the Trinity Conception Square Mall. That’s perhaps unsurprising given it would be the site in Carbonear with the most traffic coming and going almost any day of the week.
In 2018, Parsons issued 64 tickets to motorists at the mall, with 57 of those specific to vehicles occupying the fire lane. But Parsons himself is quick to point out he considers other parts of Carbonear to be his main priority. He said the mall contacted the town in 2018 requesting some help dealing with drivers parked illegally, to which the town committed to sending over the MEO when he wasn’t otherwise occupied.
“I don’t have to be over there every day, and it might go a week without me being over there,” said Parsons, who added there’s been some noticeable improvement in parking around the mall over the last while.
“I can see a lot of difference in people parking there now compared to what it was. Even with the (blue zone) parking, there’s less for me for enforcement now than what was there say two years ago.”
There are tickets issued for violations here and there around the community, but most ticketing away from the mall occurs on Water Street in downtown Carbonear. Parsons issued 50 tickets there in 2018, with 27 tied to vehicle parked at a crosswalk. He said this creates a serious safety issue for pedestrians looking to remain visible to motorists as they try to cross the street.
“How can you make it any clearer you can’t park on a crosswalk? A lot of people say, ‘I didn’t see it.’”
Parsons admits too there are times when that might be an honest mistake due to a lack of fresh paint or the accumulation of snow.
“This time of the year, would I enforce it? Maybe not so much. But I look at it. Can I see it? If I can see it, somebody else should see it.”
The issue of parking at least six metres from an intersection becomes important for emergency responders, Parsons said. He issued eight tickets for this infraction in 2018, all of them along Water Street. The curb is painted in the spring to help motorists see the space they need to avoid.
“A lot of the (complaints about the) intersections is coming from the fire department, because they can’t come down to the intersection and make a turn because the vehicle is right at the intersection.”
Beyond parking concerns, Parsons still sees a lot of litter accumulating around town, particularly along Fox Farm Road and other areas where certain members of the public feel they can dump garbage without getting caught.
“We’ve had some success with catching people for littering and dumping,” said Parsons, who remains surprised people would do this still given the fact so many people own large trucks and have a drop-off site in Harbour Grace available to use.
In his role as an MEO, Parsons can collect evidence through the use of cameras set up in isolated areas and pass that along to police, who can lay charges under the Environmental Protection Act.
There’s a whole slew of regulations in place Parsons can issue tickets for, but he doesn’t necessarily try to enforce all of them with an iron fist.
“Go through our regulations — there’s a whole lot I can issue tickets for. But you give little allowances too because it’s time consuming, and this isn’t my only job in enforcement.”