Calgary residents concerned parking proposal could violate privacy

Calgary parking patrol proposal raising concerns over privacy
WATCH: The City of Calgary is considering changing the way it patrols parking in residential permit zones. But as Jill Croteau reports, residents are concerned their privacy may be violated.

A plan to change the way parking is patrolled in Calgary’s residential neighbourhoods has some residents in an uproar, worried about their privacy.

The 34,000 people living in these various areas across the city get issued a permanent parking pass, meaning they can park on their street without the threat of being ticketed. They also have access to visitor passes.

READ MORE: Calgary’s permit parking program may go hi-tech with ParkPlus

Under a new proposed system, though, visitors would have to register their license plates online with the Calgary Parking Authority (CPA) — something they never had to do before.

“We risk the new system becoming big brother,” said Kensington resident Lee Tasker.

Tasker has initiated a letter-writing campaign addressed to the mayor and city councillors, asking officials to put their decision on hold until the possible consequences can be investigated.

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“Calgary Parking Authority will be able to identify and collect data on patterns of behavior,” Tasker said.

“Like who comes to my house, when they come to my house and how long they stay. Our biggest fear is they haven’t done a thorough enough analysis on our private information.”

If approved, the plan will see the manual parking enforcement and paper ticketing for infractions being done by camera-equipped cars.

READ MORE: Calgary Parking Authority to continue rate freeze into 2017

The Privacy and Access Council of Canada called the idea misguided. President Sharon Polsky submitted her own letter of concern to Calgary city council.

“We’re going to now have you and me in an address of a restricted zone and our movements are monitored and tracked,” Polsky said. “Every time that car takes a picture — your behavior, your movement and those of visitors will be subject to being tracked.”

City officials insist CPA adheres to strict guidelines, and doesn’t sell any personal information to a third-party. Chair of the city transportation committee, Shane Keating also said if the person parking doesn’t violate any parking restrictions the logged information is erased after 48 hours.

READ MORE: Little-known Calgary parking bylaw surprises cul-de-sac homeowners

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“If they found out no infraction it’s automatically deleted,” Keating said. “So there’s no retention of records if there’s been no infraction.”

Council will be voting on the full implementation of this change on May 8.