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City reviewing free Saturday parking practices and not enforcing tickets

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City reviewing free Saturday parking practices and not enforcing tickets
WATCH: The Winnipeg Parking Authority is cancelling recent tickets related to free two-hour parking downtown on Saturdays, and are reviewing their policy. Global's Amber McGuckin reports – Dec 28, 2017

The City of Winnipeg is going to review its practices related to free two-hour parking downtown on Saturdays and not enforce tickets for the time being.

On Saturday, Winnipegger Kali Martin spotted a number of vehicles getting tickets in a zone she thought was free parking. She pointed to the sticker on the meter that clearly states it’s two hours of free parking on Saturday.

“That bright blue sticker to me almost trumps anything because it says two hours of complimentary parking on Saturday, which to me there isn’t anything clearer than that,” she said.

READ MORE: Winnipeggers complain about ‘confusing’ Saturday parking rules

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Martin is not alone.

Jerico Medina works downtown and regularly drives. Last year he says he had to pay around $800 in parking tickets.

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But even with all those fines, he says he never got one for not paying in a two hour zone on a Saturday.

Chief Operating Officer of the Winnipeg Parking Authority Randy Topolniski spoke to the media Wednesday. He said the parking regulation of two hours free parking on Saturdays was reviewed and reinterpreted by city staff in late November.

The change – to offer free parking for two hours on Saturdays, but only after the maximum on street paid parking time is purchased.

“Some folks would interpret it themselves as you get two hours up front. The stickers were certainly always indicating that you get two hours of complimentary parking but it was never clear,” Topolniski said.

Topolniski stated the policy has been in effect since it was approved in 2012, but only recently has been enforced.

RELATED: Increased fees still at issue as City Council approves the 2018 budget

The city started ticketing 84 people who parked in the zones between Dec. 2 and Dec. 23, 2017. Those people will be getting refunds. 

“Certainly as soon as we saw that officers and the general public were having issues with it, we immediately put a stop to it and as of today, this morning, all the tickets were issued have now been cancelled,” Topolniski said. 

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The maximum time on most meters is two hours, which would require a person to park for four hours in order to take advantage of the two hours free in the new policy interpretation. When Global News asked the city about this, they said they will be reviewing their practices. 

City councillor Russ Wyatt is frustrated by the lack of communication on the issue from the city.

“Without telling anyone, without advertising, without marketing it, they quietly did it knowing they would charge everyone for these fees. It’s an example again of the mismanagement at city hall,” Wyatt said.

Until city council has the chance to vote on a new plan, parking will be free for two hours between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays, excluding the streets near the hospitals.

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