I am not attacking Morrison personally. He was just doing his job. I'm attacking the system he's following.
Just today, my mother, Julie Johnson, drove me all the way from Lindsay back to Durham College's Oshawa Campus (which is as you probably know on strike like all the other colleges) so I could partake in my weekly Riot Radio show. It's called "Weldon Witness: Book Worm, Film Geek and Friend", or just "Weldon Witness". I had a lot to carry up. A box of books to display on the show, my backpack, my camera, my clean laundry and a bag of groceries. We were also in a hurry to do some errands we had to do before my show at 3 p.m., which was in two hours. We parked in the roundabout of the residence I live in, South Village, a 5-story stay-in in the middle of campus. This is a photo of the roundabout.
So, this ticket is justified and there’s no case, right? Wrong.
I know this might be hard to believe, but I'd actually never seen these signs before, or never paid attention to them. I couldn't see the signs unless I was looking for them, which I had to do for this story. But I never had any reason to look out for them in the past. People park in the roundabout all the time, usually to pick up or drop off their kids or their friends. It's the most convenient place to park, especially with heavy luggage. On Friday and Sunday nights, about five cars will park in this roundabout, some of which do leave the car unattended.
“One time last year,” my mom told me, “I asked the receptionist [of South Village] if I could park in the roundabout for 15 minutes. She said 15 minutes was fine.” In fact, my family has parked in that roundabout dozens of times because it’s the most convenient place to pick me up, as have numerous families. Fifteen minutes was the approximate amount of time she had left the car unattended this time too. This is my second year at Durham College and my second year of living in South Village Residence, and this is the very first ticket my mom and I have ever come across. As a result of months of inactivity and a confirmation from Residence Staff, I never actually knew about this rule. It was one of those do-it-once-you-can-do-it-again situations. And we’ve been doing it since September of 2016. Also, none of these signs expressly say that you could be fined $100 dollars for parking here.
In some ways, it doesn’t come down to if you’re parked there. It’s more like a game of Tag. At 4 p.m. this car (which I have no correlation with whatsoever) was parked where my mom parked the car. As you might be able to see, there was no one in the car. And no ticket. No $100 fine for them.
On the parking ticket, there are lots of possible charges. Clearly, the City of Oshawa has thought about every possible occurrence. There's a $30 fine for parking 2 meters close to a driveway, or $45 for parking on the sidewalk. One of the most punishing, at $60, is parking or stopping in a prohibited school zone. That makes sense to me. Stopping buses from entering can get in the way of ongoing traffic and students trying to reach class, and it does make sense why the most punishing would be parking in a fire route, in some context. Blocking or preventing firetrucks from doing their job can endanger lives. However, there's a difference between law and civilization. Like I said, on average, five cars will be parked in that roundabout every Friday and Sunday night, and now parking in that place costs more than an average minimum wage worker's daily income?
Let me tell you something. My sister, her friend and I were invited to go to a movie in Peterborough. When we left the theatre, there was a ticket for parking too long. We thought we’d paid the meter enough. Guess not. How much was it? $15. Every parking ticket is aggravating, but $15 is the lowest fine on the ticket I received. That's 7 times cheaper than the ticket we got for parking for 15 minutes in a zone that wasn't having much activity anyway.
Nicole MacGregor, a Residence Lead, explained that it’s not the residence or the campus’s decision but it’s the city’s decision to ticket vehicles with this penalty. “Unfortunately, parking in this part here is actually part of their bi-laws so it’s not [the residence’s or the campus’] security. It’s actually enforced by the city…It has nothing to do with the Residence. If I parked there, I’d get in the same trouble. So they do come around and do that, unfortunately.” MacGregor also mentioned Campus Security has been more strict about rules since this summer, and this ticket is not a new thing going around. It's been this way for years, despite my mom and I doing it and never receiving a ticket till now.
MacGregor also says that the residence is aware of the inconvenience and is trying to come up with alternatives. “We as a residence are trying to figure out a better way [than the signs] because that is the most convenient spot, being closest to the door.”
One of the Staff, Kieran Wilson, told me that this happened to him once. His family parked in the lane and left it unattended for “two minutes” to get a few things. The same ticket was there when they arrived back down. There's a difference between the fire routes that justified a $100 fine in order to keep empty and the roundabout at South Village.
I have lived at South Village for the entire 2016-2017 school year and am going to be at South Village for the rest of this school year too, and this is the very first time my mother and I have received a ticket. It was a ticket in a place that we have grown to trust, a place we have parked, left attended or not, without any backlash ever happening before. And now we do not just have a ticket, but it’s a ticket with the highest fine possible. If the City of Oshawa or Durham College Security wishes to comment, I am more than willing to hear it. Every parking ticket you are allowed to dispute. If my mom and I decide to dispute this one, I'll have a case.