Brier fans feel parking pinch

KELLY PEDRO and PATRICK MALONEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:40 PM ET

LONDON - Brier organizers were rubbing their temples Wednesday over a parking headache that has ticked off some curling fans.

The issue even reached city hall, with London Mayor Joe Fontana saying private downtown lots had "gouged" visitors this week.

Complaints over the cost of parking and the doling out of tickets have resulted in Brier volunteers getting an earful from some none-too-happy fans.

"We've heard a lot of people complaining about the cost," Peter Inch, the host committee chair, said.

"The comments were 'great Brier -- I parked and got ripped off. See if I come back to London.' "

Referring to everyone from event organizers to the unaffiliated parking lot owners, Inch added: "We're all looked at as London."

Inch says he was most concerned about complaints from visitors who paid $20 to park for a day -- only to be greeted with a ticket when they returned, unaware they also had to pay a post-workday fee to park at night.

During a meeting of council's finance committee, Fontana raised the possibility of a bylaw that would limit what privately owned lots can charge.

"There is no municipal bylaw now that governs what can and can't be done on ... private parking lots," Fontana said. "There is (one) that governs our own lots, therefore we can't take advantage, nor would we want to.

"But I think we need to obviously look at the private parking lots."

In an effort to ease the problem, Inch contacted Impark -- which manages about 50 core-area lots -- to discuss the issue.

Impark officials say there was a "miscommunication" at one of its lots, where people were charged an event rate, $20, to park all day but were expected to pay another $10 to stay past 6 p.m.

The $20 rate will now secure a spot all day and night -- provided the vehicle doesn't leave the lot -- and any tickets already handed out will be cancelled, Impark general manager Lloyd Stacey said.

"If downtown succeeds, we succeed," said Stacey, who was also contacted by the mayor's office this week. "And I'm well aware of that."

Stacey said he has been told there are concerns about the amount of parking available. The Impark lots are more than 80% full on regular weekdays -- leaving little room near the John Labatt Centre for the visitors who stream in for the Brier.

patrick.maloney@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/patatLFPress


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