Thursday, December 20, 2012

Antiquated process

Our current mayor of Calgary has made it clear that he is open to any and all suggestions that might eliminate or reduce red tape at City Hall.  Well Mr. Mayor, have I got a jumble of red tape that needs to be fixed.

When residents of a neighbourhood want the city to establish parking restrictions so that only residents and invited guests may park in front of people's homes, they have to apply for a residential parking zone.  This is done in a manner that has existed for decades.  A concerned resident takes a piece of paper and goes door to door collecting signatures for a petition.  They have to hope that your home, they have to hope that you are interested, and regardless of whether you sign or not, you don't get to add your 2¢ to the conversation.

Here's an example from my own neighbourhood.  A resident came to our door back in the summer asking if we would sign a petition applying for residential parking zone.  The issue was that an abandoned public school just up the street was going to reopen as a private charter school.  The resident was concerned that overflow student parking would occupy the streets in front of our homes during the day.

I did sign the petition, but I made it very clear that I really wasn't concerned with people parking in front of my house during the day.  My real concern was with users of the sports field across the street parking in front of our house when there was lots of alternate parking adjacent to the field that was not been used.  This tends to happen all summer after 5:00 PM.  I was really hoping that my concerns would have modified the application to ensure that the parking restriction lasted day and night.

Well, our home is now in an official residential parking zone with restriction between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.  But here's the funny thing.  The school has been a open for almost four months and we have never had an issue with students parking in front of our house.  Meanwhile, I can guarantee you that come summer we will have an issue parking in front of our own home while sports events are happening across the street.

So what we have here is a process to secure residential parking restrictions that is antiquated beyond belief, depends on a resident passing paper around the neighbourhood, and doesn't do anything to adjust for changing circumstances, add extra concerns and information or anything else.  And as a result the city of Calgary has spent money erecting signs and issuing permits for a problem that doesn't even exist whilst ignoring a problem that persists after years.

The logical solution is to change the application process into an electronic one that is interactive and allows for continual feedback from the people who would be affected.  If this were in effect, the city could have saved a bit of coin.

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