Persnickety parking enforcer wins Dick Clod Award

Parking ticket issued at 4:05 p.m. on New Year's Eve when there was little traffic on Lower Water Street in Halifax.

Parking ticket issued at 4:05 p.m. on New Year’s Eve when there was little traffic on Lower Water Street in Halifax.

It’s New Year’s Eve in Halifax. Across the street from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a four-door sedan is parked illegally for five whole minutes.

Miraculously, it has not impeded traffic on Lower Water Street, but it’s only a matter of time before it chokes off this major artery and prevents the city’s workforce from getting home to ring in the New Year.

Josh Richter, Badge #50085, is walking the beat for Parking Enforcement Division H and he’s fighting the bitter December cold as he takes out his pen to issue a parking ticket. Not content with merely giving this scofflaw a $25 fine, he calls for tow-truck support. This parked car is a serious problem that must be dealt with quickly because there are a lot of people trying to get home from work at 4:05 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

A mother and two small children emerge from the museum just in time to stop their car from being towed away. Our diligent parking enforcer briefly regains his wits and halts the towing process so the trio is not stranded downtown — but the $25 parking ticket stands.

Thank goodness for parking enforcers like Josh Richter, who are so well-endowed with common sense that they assiduously enforce parking bylaws even when it’s not necessary and keep our fair city safe from the scourge of parked cars.

For sticking to the letter of the law and enforcing parking regulations even when it does no civic good, Josh Richter earns the 2013 Dick Clod Award – an dubious honour given to those who are persnickety without peer.

Nominations for the 2014 award are open. Please send them in.

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17 comments on “Persnickety parking enforcer wins Dick Clod Award

  1. Luke MacDonald says:

    I nominate you Ryan. It sounds like this guy was just doing his job. And if this is all you can come up with perhaps you should apply to the city and try a real job.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Luke. He was just doing his job, but the point of my blog post is that the people who do this job don’t have to be mindless automatons. Sometimes a little discretion is OK. Police officers use it all the time. Also, whoever sent this guy out to enforce parking regulations on Lower Water Street on New Year’s Eve should probably have their budget curtailed a little bit. As for working for the city, I would love to create a Department of Common Sense for them — maybe I’ll make that pitch to them.

  2. Peter Z says:

    I suspect he is a contractor with securitas (who have the parking enforcement contract with the city). Securitas makes money by issuing tickets. He is not there to help you, he is there to make his employer money.

    Incidentally, the tow company shows up on its own at 10 to 4 everyday and waits..

    • Thanks for the info, Peter. I wasn’t there, but the person who got the ticket told me that the guy who issued the ticket was wearing a blue coat that said “HRM Parking Enforcement.” Do Securitas staff wear those coats and get badge numbers? Also, if the city is paying a private contractor to do this work, I would suggest that they save some money by telling them their services are not required on New Year’s Eve. It’s technically not a holiday, but a lot of people took time off work. Parking enforcement was not necessary as there was very little traffic.

  3. Bill says:

    Securitas has the contract, although the HRM Parking Enforcement person who drives around in a white pickup truck might have some other status. This is what happens through when you take a municipal function and contract it out to the lowest bidder. It changes from an interaction between our government and the citizen, to a purely profit driven enterprise. In the former there might be some consideration for the public during unusual circumstances, or some discretion or appeal to reason. In the latter it’s ONLY about making as much money as possible. The municipal government has divested itself of this relationship. Complain to government and they’ll point to the contractor. Complain to the contractor and either get ignored or they’ll point to the municipal manager.

    Securitas does not care about you. They don’t care about that mother, and they don’t care about Halifax. They care about making money, full stop, end of story. A few $25 fines that day paid for one person’s salary. That’s all that matters to them. This is what government has come to and it’s going to get worse.

    The coat and badge might be just some made-up phony thing as Securitas pretends to have some special status. Or, maybe it was an actual Special Constable or something. Hard to say.

  4. gregbeau says:

    It has been my experience over the years that parking tickets are not about common sense or even fairness. They are simply a revenue source that the city tries to maximize, and always have been. For years the city used Commissionaires to write tickets and it was no different from Securitas or whomever. I recall going to a meeting in the WTCC and parking at a meter on Argyle. I set the alarm on my phone for 50 minutes to remind me to go feed the meter. When it went off and I went out to my car, it already had a ticket on it and the meter was showing zero. I complained to the Commissionaire and later, the city about it being a fast meter, but no dice.

    For that matter, the city “deputizes” (for want of a better term) people who manage apartment buildings and parkades to write parking tickets as well. That’s right, the super of your apartment building has a HRM ticket pad and can put parking tickets on car windshields who park in his lot. At least, that used to be the case in the 1990s when I lived in Park Vic. Apparently this is legal under provincial law.

    The situation on arterial streets during rush hour is a bit different as most of the time you want illegally parked cars removed, hence the towing contract. They also do this on Quinpool Road. I would agree that 4PM on NYE seems a bit much, but I am less inclined to be critical of this than I am of overzealous meter patrols.

    • Thanks, Greg. I agree with you. It’s difficult for the city to claim that it is not just a cash cow when it (or its hired hands) enforce the parking laws so strictly. If it’s all about maintain civic order and the like, this ticket wouldn’t have been issued. On a regular business day, I would say that the ticket is justified because the sign is there for a reason. That reason is not to make money, though, it is to allow for rush-hour traffic to circulate freely.

  5. Shawn McNiel says:

    I like how the only person in this story who isn’t getting the blame is the only person in this story who actually broke the law.

    • Did you not understand the first sentence, Shawn?

      “Across the street from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a four-door sedan is parked illegally for five whole minutes.”

      And is that the best you can do? You must work for the city — in bylaw enforcement, I bet.

  6. Shawn McNiel says:

    Oh sorry, I must have missed the part on the sign that says “unless you’re only going to be 5 minutes”

    I’d also like to see the Tow truck that can be called, get there, and hook up the car in 5 minutes. by the time all that happened she was probably there a good 30 minutes.

    while I do think having your car towed on new years eve is a bit excessive and unnecessary. everyone is pointing the fingers are securitas, the officer and the city. If she hadn’t parked where she shouldn’t have been none of this would have happened.

    Also, i don’t work for the city. care to take another guess?

  7. And you must have missed the part where I urge the use of discretion, something law enforcement uses all the time. But, as is likely the case here, this is not law enforcement, but a cash grab by a private contractor.

    • Paul G. Lennon says:

      I agree with both sides of this actually. I think ‘five minutes’ is irrelevant and we really have to take you at your word that she was only ‘five minutes’, while your bias is clear: you want us to feel compassion for this woman and disgust for the employee who was doing his job. You’ve included his full name and badge number so the public can swiftly shame him for performing his contracted function as a parking enforcer, you’ve not simply suggested that he used discretion as you indicated above, be honest, you are trying to shame him.

      “Across the street from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a four-door sedan is parked illegally. (period)”. At the same time, we have to take a third population into account, the other commuters (as sparse as they might have been at that time and date, another point we have to take your word for). Not everyone has the luxury of having new years eve off (see parking enforcement) and so people must be expected to function as it were any other day. This woman obviously felt entitled to disregard the rules that apply to everyone.

      Now a 25.00 ticket would have been sufficient. The tow truck, in my view, is where it crossed the line – particularly if she was only inside for 10-15 minutes. The parking guy likely had no indication that she had children with her (unless maybe car seats) and at least he called off the hounds when he came to that realization, but still, nobody deserves to have that kind of inconvenience/financial penalization in impound fees over a 15-20 minute indiscretion.

      • Thanks for your comment, Paul. Yes, of course I’m trying to shame him — not because he was doing his job, but because he failed to use discretion and used an overly heavy-handed approach. As others pointed out above, it’s just a cash grab by a private contractor.

        You don’t have to take my word that it was only five minutes, you can read the ticket. The time written on the ticket is 16:05 — which is five minutes into the no-parking time. Not everybody has New Year’s Eve off, it’s true, but in downtown Halifax, many people do. Trust me, traffic was sparse or I wouldn’t have bothered to write the blog post. The woman had two small children with her, so it was not a sense of entitlement, as you assume, but more likely a case of them not instantly co-operating when she said “Let’s go.” I’m glad you agree that calling in the tow truck crossed the line. That’s really the point. The parking ticket was paid.

  8. Shawn McNiel says:

    I agree 100% with everything you just said. I just was pointing out that had she not been there, none of it would have happened. That’s all.

    Good day to you sir!

  9. Shawn McNiel says:

    Oh also, it was a trick question. I’m a student right now. I don’t have a job yet.

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