26 May 2005

City Hall at work.

OoooOOooh. I made City Hall work for me today. As a taxpayer/concerned citizen, I contacted the Bylaw Enforcement department and lodged an official complaint.

I expect to be able, when needed, to get out of my vehicle, get my passengers out safely and pay at the parking meter on the curb. Unfortunately, when I went Downtown to get some lunch today, the only parking space was in front of a cafe which had a number of tables and chairs on the sidewalk. This meant having to ask several people to move in order get out of the van and pay for my parking. In fact, I ended up accidentally elbowing someone in the back of the head in doing so, because he hadn't actually moved when I asked, he just said "Oh, sorry." (Moron.)

Grumpy from my morning adventure (see last post), I gathered the kiddo and went inside the establishment and asked to see the manager. I explained that I was frustrated by the fact that the chairs seemed to be too close to the curb. She said, "Yeah, it's an ongoing concern." I waited a beat or two to see if she was going to even glance outside and check, but no, nothing. I'm not unreasonable; if she had gone outside and asked the customers to move the chairs back where they belonged, I'd have left it at that. Instead she just stood there looking at me rather blankly. So I told her I would be calling City Hall to complain. And I did.

I phoned and then followed up with an email:

My complaint is in regards to [*] on Fisgard St. At approximately 11:50 a.m. today I pulled into one of the parking spaces at the curb in front of the establishment. I had to ask people to move in order to get to my vehicle and to help my toddler out of the back seat of the van. Thankfully I have a vehicle with a sliding door. I again had to ask people to move so that I could access the City of Victoria parking meter.

According to the Sidewalk Cafe Bylaw, these temporary seats should be no less than 0.6 m from the curb where the curb lane is used for parking. I am certain they were in violation of this bylaw as some of the chairs were parallel to the parking meters. I indicated to the manager that I was unhappy with the placement of the furniture and she indicated that it was an "ongoing issue" but seemed unwilling to address it in any way. I then told her I was going to register a complaint with the City.

I sent that email at about 1:15, about 90 minutes after it happened. I just received a call back, two hours later. That's pretty good time. By then, the officer had viewed the site, spoken to the manager, and also spoken to the business owner. He assured me that (as I suspected) customers had moved the furniture. He also said that the owner was going to speak to all the staff and let them know they were responsible for maintaining the seating plan as approved by City engineers -- the one that is on file to enable them to have a "temporary sidewalk cafe" under the Sidewalk Cafe Bylaw [PDF]. He also indicated thathe plan would be placed on display at the cafe by tomorrow.


*the establishment's name has been removed to prevent added exposure/advertising


Z├ęzette said...

How infuriating. When I rule the world, cafes who aren't able to comply with these rules will have their outdoor dining rights revoked indefinitely.

Tim said...

Hum. Trying to guess which cafe on Fisgard that would be...

I am quite frankly shocked by the response you got from the City. As in: you got one.

Cheryl said...

Tim: think "global" and you'll get it. As for the response -- I was surprised too.

Rob said...

I think I had lunch there today...
I ate inside, though.