19 April 2022

Are there parking fairies in Canberra? Kind of...

| Lottie Twyford
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Parking ticket warning notice

Was it a parking fairy? Access Canberra adopts an ‘engage, educate and enforce’ approach (but not indefinitely). Photo: Region Media.

We all know about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny – but should we add the Parking Fairy to this list?

It seems the Parking Fairy has been giving some caught-out Canberrans who may have just ‘forgotten’ to top up the meter a second chance.

One of these very lucky Canberrans was Holly*, who returned one evening to her car in the back row of the car park opposite Mooseheads to find a very unwelcome surprise tucked under her windscreen.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t even register that it was a white envelope when parking tickets normally come in yellow ones because I was so stressed,” she told Region Media.

“In fact, I was so worried about it that I just left it sitting on my passenger seat until I got to my next destination before I finally plucked up the courage to open the envelope to see what the damage was.”

Inside, instead of a ticket, she found a ‘warning only … do not pay’ note.

Mooseheads carpark

At the back of this car park, Holly believed she was parking legally. Alas, that was not the case, but escaped a fine on this occasion. Photo: Screenshot.

Holly said she was surprised to have been given the warning instead of an outright fine, but she has a pretty good idea why.

“I actually thought the place I was parked was a legal parking spot, but it turns out the signage had actually recently changed from a 2P to permit parking of some kind, I think anyway,” she explained.

And according to Access Canberra, she’s onto something.

A spokesperson for the ACT Government said education letters and warning tickets are used as part of the Directorate’s ‘engage, educate and enforce’ approach to parking compliance in paid government car parks.

“Such an approach is often taken when there is a significant change to parking arrangements in the ACT – such as a car park reconfiguration, or the return to pay parking after lockdown, to support our community to adjust to the change,” the spokesperson said.

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In recent times, many Canberra motorists may have received them as part of the transition to the new parking app, which took place at the end of March.

The previous app, Parkmobile, which had been in use in government car parks since 2014, was replaced by EasyPark after the former’s parent company was taken over by the latter.

The change forced almost a 10 per cent price hike for users of the app.

“Educational information on the parking change, accompanied by a warning notice, were issued to the drivers of vehicles who had not paid for parking after the app change to advise them of the changes and also to reinforce potential consequences,” the spokesperson explains.

The government said the idea was to ensure people were not being unfairly penalised in cases when they weren’t aware of the app change.

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Unfortunately, Canberrans shouldn’t expect leniency in the future, and the government had this to say as a warning: “All Canberrans using ACT Government car parks, including on-road time and paid parking must park safely and legally at all times.

“This includes paying for parking and not overstaying signposted time limits. Doing so supports a safe and liveable city by enabling parking accessibility and providing a turnover of vehicles in time-controlled areas, which benefits local businesses and the community by improving access to them.”

*Name has been changed.

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