A Vancouver resident took to Twitter last week to express their frustration over what he considered to be a hypocritical act by a City of Vancouver worker.
Around 3:40 p.m. on May 10, Muhammad Khan says he went to pick up food from Happy Noodle Restaurant on Davie Street. "You cannot park on Davie from 3 to 6 p.m., so I turned left into this alley," he recalls. "When I turned left I see this parking bylaw car turning in the alley as well and she parked her car there and turned the emergency lights on."
Khan says he politely asked the woman, a parking enforcement officer, if he could park his car in front of hers while he quickly ran inside to grab his food. He says he told the officer that he wouldn't be more than a minute because the food was ready and already paid for.
"She said 'no' and I had to go somewhere else to find parking," says Khan. "I told her the restaurant is right there and I will be very quick. She refused so I went straight and parked in someone else's parking spot. When I was walking back to my car, I see that she was stopped there to grab her food and was walking back to the car with a bag of food in her hand."
Khan is demanding the city explain what authority their workers have to stop in alleyways — and park in locations prohibited for other drivers to use — to grab their lunch.
"If she was parking there to go and check parking meters or other cars, that's something different, but you cannot park there to grab your food," he attests.
Khan posted a video of the vehicle as he saw it in the alley on Twitter and with a direct question for the city regarding the employee: "How come she has the authority to park wherever she wants to grab her food?" Many other locals were quick to agree with the frustrated driver's assessment.
However, the City of Vancouver's parking enforcement team says the officer operated within guidelines.
What are the rules for city vehicles?
"We don't have a specific policy related to your inquiry," a spokesperson tells V.I.A. in an emailed statement.
They also clarify that the bylaw vehicle's lights do not constitute emergency lights but are considered to be "amber lights that are covered under the Motor Vehicle Act."
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issues permits for flashing amber lights with state, "the overall intent of supplementary or additional flashing amber lamp devices on a vehicle, outside of existing regulatory allowances, is to identify a stationary vehicle that may be a hazard to other road users or pedestrians."
The city claims that "the parking enforcement officer legally parked in a lane, leaving metered spaces on the street available for drivers visiting the businesses in the area."
Because the lane where the officer parked was not obstructed and is sufficiently wide enough to accommodate their vehicle and a passing vehicle, they don't consider the officer's actions to be an issue.
However, according to the city's rules for parking in lanes without signage, vehicles must leave 1.5 metres on either side of a garbage container. In Khan's video, it appears that the officer does not have that much space between them and a dumpster.
Similarly, on Monday (May 15), another Vancouver local witnessed a city engineering truck parked in a temporary no-stopping zone to grab lunch from the Subway in Olympic Village.
"There are certain circumstances where City of Vancouver vehicles/staff are permitted to park in marked areas where members of the public are not," explains Taryn Scollard, deputy general manager of safety and operations. "However, this example in Olympic Village is not one of them. We are investigating and will remind staff of appropriate use of city vehicles."
The city refused to comment on the Parking Enforcement Officer's proximity to the dumpster.