Monday, November 14, 2005

Snow Parking Zone

For those of you unfamiliar with world geography, Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut, the newest and furthestmost territory in Canada. It is on the tundra and their winters are literally eight months long.

Even in the remotest parts of the world, there’s still one issue that causes headaches: parking. From the CBC:

Some drivers in Iqaluit aren’t taking too kindly to a city initiative to get parking in the territorial capital under control.

The city has erected wooden posts with reflectors along the main street in town, to designate angle parking. Right now, parking is haphazard, at best, in a city where streets and parking lots are covered in snow for three-quarters of the year.

“[It’s a] waste of money, because they could have spent it on a little more housing and pavement, instead of these poles,” fumes Anne Mullin, a local driver.

But officials are adamant the city needs better ways to protect both pedestrians and motorists.

“Iqaluit is at a crossroad,” says Michele Bertol, the city’s director of lands and planning. “There has been an influx of habitants and also the number of vehicles substantially increased in the past three years, so we have to address this.”

But that’s not what has drivers really irked: it’s that beginning Monday, all motorists will have to back into a parking spot. The new rule includes snowmobiles, common on Iqaluit streets in winter: the city says they’ll have to back in too.

“A lot of the posts are going to get hit, a lot of bumpers are going to get damaged,” says driver Greg Kinloch.

“It won’t be fun backing up between them, I bet we’ll have too much snow,” adds Norman Mike.

The city will enforce the new rules with a traffic and parking bylaw.

Dennis Shappa has an even worse charge for the city plan: he says bureaucrats are trying to turn an Arctic community into a southern town.

“This is the first time we have ever seen poles in Iqaluit, so I don’t like it,” he says.

But not everyone is turning thumbs down on the idea.

“If people know that it promotes safety and makes things safer for pedestrians and other vehicles, I think people would go along with it,” says John Vander Velde, who says he’s had no problems backing into a parking spot.

City planner Bertol says the city consulted with elders and community groups before deciding to go ahead with back-in angled parking.

She says by-law officers will be on hand in the downtown sector on Monday to help people get it right.

There aren’t that many cars in Iqaluit; If they drive there like they do in northern Michigan, you park where you can and just pray that there’s a plug-in for your headbolt heater. After that, not much else matters.

(HT to David Nicholson at for the license plate picture.)