Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winter's maddening wrinkles

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The city's new winter parking-ban policy caused confusion and anger in some neighbourhoods following the first dump of the year, but overall it worked fairly well.

The absence of a communication strategy to ensure the public understood the new system meant many car owners were unprepared for the blitz of plows. The city says it had planned to explain the parking-ban system, but winter arrived earlier than expected. The first snow of the season, however, can arrive as early as Halloween, so the city should have been better prepared much earlier.

Business owners in mixed neighbourhoods complained the new parking ban, which stays in effect for a longer period of time than in the past, left their customers with fewer places to park.

This is a valid concern, which the city says it is studying. Officials say they will plow alternate streets in the Wolseley area to give people a place to park while the entire district is cleared of snow. The practice might be adopted in mixed neighbourhoods if it helps ease the parking problem.

Other complaints were related to plowing on garbage collection day, but the city's request that homeowners hold onto their bins until 7 a.m. is not unreasonable, particularly since the likelihood of a large snow-clearing operation occurring on garbage day is unlikely to happen in the same area too many times.

The city on average clears residential streets of snow only about twice a year, maybe three times in a bad year. There was no residential plowing last year.

In the past, residential parking bans started at midnight and ended at 6 a.m., but that meant snow plows had to work around parked cars for the rest of the day. It was less efficient than the new 12-hour-long zones that are supposed to get the job done faster and more efficiently.

The city recognizes it may need to tinker with the system to iron out the wrinkles, which should become clearer by the end of the season, assuming there is more snow to test the new parking policy.

In a winter city, there will be inconvenience, particularly when the mercury dips to 30 below, which itself has a huge impact on some businesses, particularly restaurants.

The city has a duty to be fair, but residents also have a responsibility to help the city do its job on behalf of the community. The parking ban is a small, but necessary inconvenience that is unavoidable in a winter city.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2012 A14

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