While some Calgarians are swept up in frustration over ticketing during the city’s street cleaning program this spring, one councillor hopes the roads department can brush up on communication and enforcement tactics.
Nearly 30,000 Calgarians have been ticketed for non-compliance in the city’s street sweeping program this year – a more than 245 per cent increase over all of 2018. And there’s still nine weeks left in the program.
If the tickets aren’t paid within 30 days, the value of tickets could reach $3.6 million. Even if they’re all paid within 10 days, it’s 2.4 million.
Citizens have gone to social media to log their disappointment, noting signage and actual sweeping times aren’t always meshing. Many say vehicles in their neighbourhoods are being ticket outside times posted on the signs.
Chris McGeachy, spokesman for Calgary’s roads department, said their sign notification process has been laid out to try and ensure that Calgarians weren’t erroneously ticketed when the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) rolled through.
Even though there’s a stated 12-hour advance notification, McGeachy said signs are often out 24 or more hours out. He said their process is for crews to go out in the morning to place the signs for the following couple of days.
“So once those signs go out, then Calgary Parking Authority will actually verify the date and time on the sign,” he said.
McGeachy said there’s a very low probability that residents in a particular area are getting incorrect signs, and even then, they’re trying to coordinate with the CPA when those dates do change.
“They’re verifying the signs before going out there and we are communicating with them if there’s any changes,” he said.
“So, for instance, on the weekend, when we had to postpone a couple of days, we let them know that, ‘hey, we’re not actually out here this weekend. Please do not ticket.’”
Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating has put an administrative inquiry after receiving a number of complaints about communication around the street sweeping. While he said the volume of concerns isn’t overwhelming, it’s enough to pause and investigate further.
“I raised a number of points about things that I don’t think were working well,” Keating said.
Keating suggested the 12-hour minimum notice isn’t enough, he’d like to see it bumped up to two or three days. He mentioned one resident that went out of town on a Thursday, signs went up Friday and sweeping was done Saturday and Sunday.
He also brought up the communication between roads and the CPA, particularly around the signs and actual sweeping time in light of recent weather delays.
And then, he brought up the situation around a southeast Calgary church that holds 2,000 people and sweeping was planned for Saturday and Sunday in that location.
“So, again, some more thought process into where and how and when they should sweep,” Keating said.
The southeast Calgary councillor also did pitch the idea of either having the camera cars only ticket in an area when the street sweeper is actually going through, or to perhaps mount the ticketing cameras on the sweepers.
An area of concern brought up by both Keating and McGeachy was residents putting their vehicles back on the roads after they’d seen the sweeper pass by. McGeachy said the sweeping plan calls for six passes on a roadway – three on each side – and there’s no guarantee when during the day the sweeper will complete all the passes.
Further, McGeachy said the operators of the street sweeping are also the snow crews and they handle roads construction during the summer months – so they’re on a tight schedule to get things done, he said.
Both Keating and McGeachy said despite the concerns raised by residents, the goal is compliance. Nearly 30,000 tickets is a whopping number to dole out in a one-month period. To date, 540 vehicles have also been towed.
While McGeachy admits that the bulk of the increase is related to the new enforcement partnership with the CPA, he said citizens are notoriously poor at complying for street sweeping.
“The increase is because we’re actually able to ticket violators. The compliance issue has been an issue for years,” he said.
“This year the decision was made to basically let people know that if you don’t remove your vehicle, you’re going to face the consequences.”
You can sign up for email notification that provides 24-hour notice before your street is swept. Citizens can also check the online street sweeping map at Calgary.ca/sweep.