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This article was published 18/8/2009 (2834 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A downtown Winnipeg bookstore owner claims he was threatened with a vandalism charge after getting into a sticky situation with the Winnipeg Parking Authority.
Annoyed that some of his customers were not aware they could park for free for two hours on Saturdays on downtown streets, Aqua Books owner Kelly Hughes printed stickers in his store and plastered them on four nearby Winnipeg parking Authority paystations.
"Don't worry. Winnipeg still has two-hour free parking on Saturdays," read the decals he placed on paystations last Saturday.
"But the City of Winnipeg ran out of the stickers that would normally tell you that here. Kind of inept, huh?"
The Winnipeg Parking Authority uses stickers to inform motorists they can park for free for two hours downtown on Saturdays, but is in the midst of reordering the notices, chief operating officer Dave Hill said. The stickers, which sometimes get peeled off, will be reapplied next week, he said.
"I don't know what the big deal is," Hill said. "No one's complained the stickers were gone before."
Hughes, however, claims the parking authority was less than pleased with his attempt to lend the special operating agency a helping hand.
"On Monday morning, the stickers were gone. So I put another one on the paystation outside the store," Hughes said.
"Within 20 or 25 minutes, I had a visit from someone from the parking authority who was very unhappy, who told me if I kept putting stickers on, I'd be charged with vandalism."
Hughes claims he received two visits from parking authority officials, including one who removed his sticker and applied it to a brass post inside Aqua Books.
"He said, 'I think this belongs to you,' " Hughes said.
"What I'm trying to do here is a bit of mild disobedience. I'm just trying to get someone's attention. I actually think the Winnipeg Parking Authority is doing a good job. I know they've really been making an effort in the last few years to be more user-friendly."
Still, Hughes claims the paystations near his store have been missing the two-hour free parking notices for roughly a year. "Give me the specs, I'll get them printed and I'll get the staff to put them up. It's a small thing. They're not waiting for a part from Siberia," he said.
From now on, Hughes said he will refrain from placing more stickers on paystations. The parking authority objects to the placement of any stickers or graffiti on its paystations, Hill said.
"We take great care to keep our machines looking decent," he said, adding Toronto suffers from a serious paystation-defacement problem.
Hill said he wishes Hughes had contacted him before he decided to take matters into his own sticky hands. Asked whether a parking authority official would threaten anyone with a vandalism charge, Hill responded skeptically. "Not in so many words," he said.
"This sounds like just a heated discussion, more than anything," said Stefano Grande, who both runs the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone and chairs the Winnipeg Parking Authority Advisory Committee. "I'd hate to see any of my BIZ members charged with doing anything like that. Cooler heads will prevail."