It’s a touching story of how a group of old people stood up to their owner.
It is also a warning.
In late August, tenants of an apartment building on Ottawa Street North near Lackner Boulevard in Kitchener were horrified to receive a letter, not from their landlord, but from Alpha Parking Solutions.
The letter said that effective September 1, visitors to the property would be required to register and pay for parking. Alpha would monitor the area and issue tickets and tow any vehicles that violate these rules.
Tenants everywhere are used to paying extra for their own parking space. But the visitors to the property?
More than two-thirds of tenants are seniors, said Louise Horton, who lives in one of the units.
They are visited by personal support workers, family members and others who help them live longer and more independently in their own homes. It benefits everyone.
There are plenty of visitor parking spaces on the property. Charging visitors to park is “unwarranted” and constitutes a seizure of money, Horton said.
“It was reckless. It was insensitive.
A group of people in the building had a meeting with a representative of the owner, QuadReal, to register their objections
“There were about 60 of us,” Horton proudly remembers. “Ninety-nine percent of us all have gray hair.
They listened to the owner’s representative and also contacted local elected officials, including their city councilor, Dave Schnider.
Schnider told me that he sympathizes with the residents and that he would ask the city staff to see what the municipality could do.
“I think it’s terrible that if someone needs a personal support worker or a healthcare worker that person has to pay to park,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
For these tenants, this story had a happy ending.
The owner reconsidered.
A letter was sent to tenants stating that the paid parking plan for visitors was being canceled – “after much more careful consideration of the needs and issues faced by the owner and residents”.
QuadReal responded to my request for comment late Thursday.
“Regarding the concerns of our valued residents, QuadReal has decided that there is no charge for visitor parking in our community at this time,” wrote Sally Bhagwandin, Director of Residential Operations at the company, in an email.
Score one for the little guys.
But they haven’t really been able to stop the problem. They’ve only kept him away from their building for now.
In a part of the country that was once affordable, but is now known for skyrocketing rents and house prices, paid visitor parking in apartment buildings is becoming a source of income for building owners who say , reasonably enough, that they should be able to charge a fee for the use of their private property.
Some residents of Ottawa Street want the city to pass a bylaw prohibiting paid parking for visitors in residential buildings.
Schnider said he was not sure the city legally had this power.
Meanwhile, paid parking for visitors is arriving at a Kitchener apartment building on Highland Crescent, which was just purchased by a real estate investment trust, the newspaper reported earlier this week.
And in many buildings in Guelph, visitor parking is already a concern. It is paid for through the use of smartphone apps and costs up to $ 12 per day.
The people most likely to use and pay for parking are often those who deliver meals and packages, or provide health care and housekeeping services to residents inside. These are the people who have low paying jobs.
And so the new practice further divides the haves and have-nots.