A Metro Vancouver woman found herself locked out of an Impark parking lot in downtown Vancouver late Friday evening when she returned to retrieve her vehicle before her paid parking expired.
After finishing a night shift, radio host Casey-Jo Loos arrived at the Vancouver House parkade at 777 Seymour Street around 9:50 p.m., to find the gate to the public pay parking closed even though the signage stated it was locked at 11 p.m.
“I don’t know if I’m going to get my car out or how I’m going to get home,” Loos told Global News on Saturday.
“I was feeling very vulnerable.”
Loos said she had paid the evening rate to park until 11 p.m.
When she called Garda, as an on-site sign instructed, to inquire about “after-hour access” to her vehicle, Loos said she was told they could help but it would cost her.
“I would have to give them $60 cash to get my car out,” recalled Loos.
“I said, ‘How did this happen because the sign says it’s open until 11 and it’s not even 10 o’clock, and they said, ‘Yeah I know, this is just something that happens.’”
Loos said a friend, Jody Vance, called Garda on her behalf and was told the same thing — a $60 fee is required to free the trapped vehicle.
With no other options, Loos decided to cough up the cash.
“No one came and somehow a car eventually came out of the gate, and I just ran in and got my car and drove home.”
The experience didn’t sit well with Loos so she took to social media where her tweet about the parking shakedown generated an outcry.
“I felt really angry at first when I heard that this is just a thing that happens but then I felt scared,” Loos said.
Days ago, Vancouver police revealed that reports of sexual assaults committed by strangers were up 129 per cent last month, compared to July two years ago, with the majority of attacks occurring in the Granville Entertainment District just blocks from where Loos had parked.
“I don’t want to be hanging around downtown Vancouver kind of against my will,” Loos said.
In a statement, Impark told Global News: “We’re working directly with the customer to address the situation and are grateful it was brought to our attention.”
Apparently, the hours at the parkade changed early on during the pandemic but, as Loos learned, not all the signage had been updated.
“He also added that he’s going to follow up with the Garda employee about the $60 fee.”
When asked to respond to Loos’ tweet and her concerns that she was told she could pay $60 cash to get her car out, GardaWorld Security Services said it offers after-hour nighttime on-call service only and is “not responsible for managing gate time opening and closing hours.”
GardaWorld also advised Global News to contact Impark to get “more details.”
Impark does not oversee the contractor responsible for locking and unlocking the parking facility and responding to customers after hours, but the parking giant said it is ensuring its signage accurately reflects current hours of operation.
Vancouver City Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung called the incident a customer service fail and unacceptable.
“They need to ensure that if you update your policies, you update your signage,” said Kirby-Yung, who also noted the safety concerns the situation exposed.
“I also think you need to recognize that this is not a cash society anymore and so whoever is requesting cash late at night doesn’t make sense to me. You need to provide people with options to pay and the most important thing you give that person is the chance to get their vehicle and get home safely.”
Loos hopes by sharing her experience, other women who work downtown late at night won’t face a similar scenario in the future.
“I hope that you can safely park your car somewhere,” said Loos.
“And you don’t feel like you’re potentially gonna be scammed.”