Ottawa park's Pokémon Go parking woes lead to nearly $12,000 in tickets

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Saturday night parking impoundment fee unfair, Kanata woman says

06 January 2017 19:00:36 Ottawa Citizen - News

We've all been tempted but a Kanata woman found out the expensive way that just because a private parking lot is empty on a Saturday night, doesn't mean it's free. Brenda Cardinal is steaming mad that it cost her nearly $300 to get her car back after it was towed from a Park Safe lot at the corner of Somerset and O'Connor streets on Dec. 17 when she and a friend went to a Christmas concert at Dominion Chalmer's United Church. It was a snowy night and Cardinal said she didn't see the 24/7 enforcement signs posted on the lot or the $10 flat fee posted on a sandwich board sign at the lot entrance. When the concert was over, Cardinal and her friend, who had parked beside her, found the lot full and their cars gone. It cost them each $293.80 to get their cars back from where they'd been impounded in a garage near Lansdowne Park. "Three hundred dollars just before Christmas? That was a real hardship for me," said Cardinal, who contacted the Citizen with her complaint. "(Park Safe) didn't want to hear any excuses over the phone.... They said what I did was compared to going into a Mac's Milk and stealing products from them. I said, 'I am a respectable woman in my early 60s and there's no way I wouldn't have paid had I known that I had to pay for parking." Park Safe owner Marcie Tilley and her husband, Marc Proulx, don't have much sympathy. For them, towing and ticketing is the biggest headache of the parking business. "Our business is very simple," Proulx said. "We park cars. We collect money. We make sure it gets to the bank. But you need to make sure that everyone follows the rules." Park Safe is deputized to issue City of Ottawa parking tickets on its lots, but when demand is high for parking, like on the night of the concert, tickets aren't a good solution. For one thing, Park Safe has to split the $55 it receives for each ticket 50-50 with the city. Secondly, a non-paying car takes a spot from someone else who's willing to pay. Cardinal and her friend were the first cars in the lot, but the place was soon full of concertgoers. "When we went there, the other 58 people paid for their parking. They were the only two who didn't pay for parking," he said. "I hate doing enforcement. It's the worst part of our business," Tilley said. "But we have to do it because if we don't no one would ever pay. But it consumes a huge amount of our time. It's the largest expense in our business." Park Safe charged $95 for the tow, $55 because it had to use a dolly on Cardinal's car, $55 for the impoundment and then issued a $55 ticket. Tax brought the charge to $293.80. "When people come to us complain and want to be reimbursed, we've already gone out there and made the tow and incurred all the costs," Tilley said. "If the person had just read the signs, they wouldn't be in this situation. If I got a parking ticket or my car got towed, I'd pay it and suck it up because I'm the one who made the mistake." Park Safe uses licence plate readers to track cars which eliminates the need for dashboard parking slips. It has its own tow trucks and employs five full time workers to do enforcement. Tilley estimates they park 100,000 cars a week, issue about 100 tickets and tow just a couple of cars on average. If people dispute a charge, they can take the company to small claims court, but Proulx says the company's never lost a case. Once, a man who was towed claimed there was no warning signs, then went to the lot and ripped all the signs off the wall. He didn't realize the lot had a surveillance camera. "When I called the guy and said we had him on camera, he said, 'Oh, I'm so sorry,' and he brought us all the signs back," Proulx said. "You wouldn't believe what people will do to avoid paying $10 to park." For her part, Cardinal has complained to the Better Business Bureau but said she's resigned to her loss. "I didn't expect that I would ever get any money back from Park Safe but I will be very happy if the story helps others."

Vice null Time06 January 2017 19:00:36


RVH parking woes

08 October 2016 00:01:35 Home Stories

It wasn’t just the price at the gate but the gate itself that caused parking complaints at RVH.

Vice Alle News Time08 October 2016 00:01:35

Pokémon backpack search turns up cocaine stash in Kingston

01 October 2016 18:37:55 Ottawa Citizen - News

The Pokémon Go catchline, 'Gotta catch 'em all,' took on new meaning in Kingston this week when police seized a large quantity of cocaine in a Pokémon backpack. Kingston police arrested two men, aged 23 and 27 years old, Thursday night parked near a John Street address following a lengthy investigation. A search of the car passenger's "Pokémon Pokéball" backpack, officers found two large circular pressed and vacuum-sealed bags containing suspected cocaine. During the arrest officer also found several smaller bags of suspected cocaine, two cellphones and an apparent debt-list, indicators of drug trafficking, police said in a release. The 23-year-old passenger and 27-year-old driver of the car were jointly charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. The 23-year-old was also charged with breach of an undertaking. It was one of two cocaine busts Thursday night. Kingston officers arrested four men at a Walmart parking lot and seized more than one kilogram of suspected cocaine in bricks. They also seized $600 in cash, several cellphones, a digital scale and smaller quantities of suspected cocaine and marijuana.

Vice null Time01 October 2016 18:37:55

Smoking crackdown next for controversial Pokemon Go hotspot

12 August 2016 21:14:47 Ottawa Citizen - News

Smokers at Ottawa's most controversial Pokemon Go hotspot better beware: police are now promising to crack down on those who light up at Dick Bell Park. Dick Bell Park in Nepean is the same spot where bylaw officers blanketed illegally parked cars with hundreds of tickets totalling almost $12,000 over the August long weekend. Now the authorities have turned their attention to smoking, which is banned on all city property, including parks. On Tuesday, police and bylaw officers descended on the popular spot for catching Pokemon and wrote seven tickets. The offence carries a $250 fine, plus a $55 victim surcharge. It was an effort to get smokers to butt out on the breakwater that runs along the Ottawa River off Carling Avenue near the Nepean Sailing Club and a response to what police said were complaints about people smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinking and staying past the park's 11 p.m. closing. "You can't smoke in the park," Ottawa police Const. Marc Soucy said of the ticket blitz. And Pokemon Go players better get used to seeing police and bylaw officers, he said. "It's probably going to happen again. They are going to check on a regular basis," said Soucy. "Obey the rules." A smoker catches a Pokemon at Dick Bell Park. The one spot in the park has become the most famous Ottawa location for catching Pokemon, attracting hundreds of people every day. (David Kawai/Postmedia) Craig Sweetnam has been among those complaining about the cigarette smoke. Sweetnam said he's noticed others using e-cigarettes or smoking marijuana. Sweetnam said he's not only allergic to smoke, but doesn't like seeing people smoking near children who are among the throngs of anywhere from 200 to 300 players that crowd the small point of land near the lighthouse nearly every night. The 43-year-old said he's tried asking smokers to move away, but got dirty looks instead. "I'm not trying to be a killjoy, I'm trying to protect my own health and the health of the people around me," he said. "This is like Canada Day. We're packed in there like sardines," he said. "Smokers are inconveniencing and detrimentally affecting the health of non-smokers around them. That's why we have rules against smoking in public parks like this." But Jordan St. Jean, a smoker and Pokemon Go player, said he believes there must be a better solution than handing out expensive tickets. It should start with courtesy by the smokers, he said. "If they don't like it, just say something, people will move," he said. "If you are a smoker, go off to the edge where there is no one around." St. Jean said he recognizes the city has a right to ticket people who ignore the law, even if he thinks it could be avoided. "If it's the law, it's the law," he said. People gather to play Pokemon Go at Dick Bell Park. (David Kawai/Postmedia) The smoking crackdown comes just two weeks after a parking blitz that saw bylaw officers issue 264 tickets in a three-day period. Witnesses described it as parking chaos that weekend, as drivers visiting Dick Bell Park and the nearby Nepean Sailing Club illegally parked cars on the grass or along the roadways. Some received tickets for not moving their cars by 11 p.m., when the park closed. The tickets totalled $11,880, and that's if you paid them early. Bylaw officers are continuing to ticket drivers who don't follow the parking rules. They issued another 52 parking tickets on Thursday night alone, which is a race night at the sailing club. Each ticket carries a $45 fine if paid within 15 days; otherwise, it's $65. Dan Chenier, the general manager of the city's parks, recreation and cultural services department, said in an email statement earlier this week that the city will be putting up new signs. No parking signs have since been painted on the pavement to better identify where people can park. The city said it has also worked out an arrangement with the Nepean Sailing Club that will see its members receive special parking permits so they can park past 11 p.m. The city has also agreed to allow members additional special events parking on the sailing club's race nights. "Nepean Sailing Club is accustomed to dealing with all sorts of challenges, from freak storms to ever-increasing electricity costs," wrote Ross Laver, the sailing club's vice commodore in a newsletter to members last week. "But who could have foreseen that in the summer of 2016, our biggest headache would be a game that encourages hordes of people to roam the city in search of cartoon creatures they can capture, train and send into combat against those of other players?" Those challenges included Pokemon Go players gaining access to the club's Wi-Fi password and slowing their Internet down so much that staff could barely send or receive emails, Laver wrote. The sailing club has been telling its members in emails that if they received a ticket for parking past 11 p.m. to let the club know and it will try to have it reversed.

Vice null Time12 August 2016 21:14:47

Ottawa park's Pokémon Go parking woes lead to nearly $12,000 in tickets

03 August 2016 02:23:18 Ottawa Citizen - News

What do you get when you mix a Pokémon Go hot spot, a sailing club and a city park? A busted Wi-Fi network and nearly $11,880 in parking tickets, apparently. At least that was the case last weekend, when Ottawa bylaw officers descended on Dick Bell Park off Carling Avenue and handed out 264 parking tickets during a three-day blitz. One hundred and thirty-four tickets were handed out on the Monday alone. The ticketing at the park, which juts out into the Ottawa River, comes as it's discovered newfound popularity as a great spot to catch Pokémon. Since the release of the online game, which involves players using their mobile devices to try to find and catch the online creatures, an estimated 200 to 300 players are flocking to the lighthouse on the point across from the Nepean Sailing Club nightly. The result is often parking chaos, as cars are left on the lawn or lining the roadways once the designated parking spots are filled. Drivers are also leaving their cars in the lot after the park's 11 p.m. closing, another no-no, according to the city's bylaw department. Each offence carries a $45 fine. And the weekend ticketing was indiscriminate, catching both Pokémon Go players and members of the sailing club. The club members, who pay annual fees, now often arrive to find no place to park, even though in years past they say they were able to park on the grass without ever getting a ticket. Sailing club member Miles Hammond found himself ticketed after parking on the grass Monday. He said the lot was so full that cars were driving up and down the grass looking for spots. "I can't wait for a parking spot because the guys who are playing Pokémon are there for, like, 12 hours, eight hours," said Hammond, who said he recognizes Pokémon players have as much right to the parking spots as he does since it's a public park. "It's not like there is a fast turnover in parking spots." Hammond said he parked on the grass probably 10 times in the past four years without a problem, particularly on busy Thursday race nights at the sailing club. "Is this just like a three-month craze with Pokémon or is it going to get worse because more people find out it's a really good spot to go? Or are people not going to show up because they don't want parking tickets?" Hammond asked. Pokémon Go player Ziad Sami El-Zoor said he came back to his car Saturday night to find a double whammy — a ticket each for both parking on the side of the road and another for being there after 11 p.m. El-Zoor said there were no signs telling them they couldn't park where they parked or that they'd be ticketed after 11 p.m. (There are no-parking signs along one side of the road leading to the parking lot and in the loop in front of the sailing club.) Adam Girardi, 17, said he, too, got a ticket Monday. He said he figured other cars were parked on the grass, so he could as well. "Everyone was parked there. There was no issue," said Girardi. "If there was a sign there, I wouldn't have parked." "Ottawa needs to lighten up a little bit," added El-Zoor, a 30-year-old hair stylist. "We're not doing any harm. It's a bunch of people getting together, playing a game." Scott Campbell, program manager of enforcement for bylaw, said the enforcement has nothing to do with Pokémon Go and everything to do with drivers not being able to just leave their cars wherever they want. "It wouldn't be green space if we just let them use it," said Campbell. "You just can't abandon it wherever you so choose." "I think it's a bit of common sense," he added. "If there was no spots on the street you wouldn't necessarily park in somebody's driveway, on the sidewalk or wherever just because you want to park." Campbell said a sign is only required warning drivers to not park on parkland after closing if the park closes at any time other than 11 p.m., when most parks typically close. "It's like on-street parking. There's no signs for hydrants, there's no signs for intersections, there's no signs for driveways. They are rules that you are basically supposed to know," he said. "These are the number of spaces and the number of vehicles the park can accommodate, and after that it's just not free will to do what you wish." Campbell said officers received two complaints about people camping, smoking and drinking in the park. While they found none of those, they did find parking infractions. Campbell said the city routinely enforces parking in city parks, particularly on weekends. Campbell said the city could also ticket people who remain in the park in general after 11 p.m. under a separate bylaw, although so far have been choosing to educate violators about the rules and asking them to leave. Heather Erven, business manager at the Nepean Sailing Club, said co-existing with the Pokémon Go players has presented new challenges. The sailing club has already had to shut off its free Wi-Fi for members after Pokémon Go players figured out their password and crashed their Internet service. Pokémon Go players have also started appearing in their lobby looking to charge their devices and parked in dedicated spots reserved for vehicles with boat trailers that need a special permit. But Erven said Pokémon Go players have every right to use the public park. The sailing club leases the building from the city. Erven said the number of Pokémon Go players who routinely gather at the park is "quite impressive." "They are people who never would have seen Dick Bell Park. However, are we benefitting from it? No. Not at all," she said. Erven said they've asked the city for better signage. In a memo to club members, the management said they are trying to get tickets for parking overnight reversed. Campbell said one of his supervisors was meeting with the sailing club Tuesday. Campbell said the sailing club has an exemption for members parking past 11 p.m., since they have a lease with the city, and bylaw is working with the club to find a way to identify member's vehicles.

Vice null Time03 August 2016 02:23:18

Pokémon GO-es in Oakville

29 July 2016 23:11:52 Halton-News (from

OAKVILLE — Pokémon GO is a free app game played on mobile devices. It sees players capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear in the real world through their phones.

Vice Alle News Time29 July 2016 23:11:52

Pokémon Go craze hits Milton’s downtown core

29 July 2016 19:50:41 Halton-News (from

MILTON — Dozens of local youth and adults descended on Milton’s downtown core for a Pokémon Go Lure Party Thursday evening.

Vice Alle News Time29 July 2016 19:50:41

Pokémon Go leads to international incident at U.S. border

23 July 2016 20:39:56 Ottawa Citizen - News

U.S. Border Patrol officials say two Canadian teenagers were briefly apprehended after they accidentally crossed the U.S. border into Montana while playing the game “Pokemon Go.”

Vice null Time23 July 2016 20:39:56

City reviewing 11 p.m. parklands curfew in response to Pokémon gaming craze

23 July 2016 20:26:17 Brampton-News (from

Brampton streets are awash with gamers on the hunt for Pokémon monsters, but “GO” addicts have been warned that hanging around city parks after hours is off-limits.

Vice null Time23 July 2016 20:26:17

Hundreds Pikachoose Confederation Park for 'lure party'

20 July 2016 02:00:44 Ottawa Citizen - News

Around 200 would-be Poké-Masters flocked to Confederation Park on Tuesday afternoon to join a mass Pokémon Go "lure party," Ottawa's largest player gathering of the blockbuster mobile game yet. Event organizer Steph Job, 23, said the party originally started as a get-together for just a few friends and nobody expected a large turnout. "The fact that it went this viral this quickly was amazing," Job said. "I guess it just goes to speak to how much people love the game. The game is based on cellular network traffic, so the more people in the area, the more Pokémon spawn. The busier, the better." By this point, you've probably heard of Pokémon Go, the "augmented reality" mobile game that allows players to catch, battle and train Pokémon. The app uses the phone’s GPS as players walk around a Google Maps-esque grid of the real world, catching Pokémon at random when they pop up, superimposed, on screen. A "lure party," as they've come to be known, involves setting a "lure," or device that temporarily attracts more Pokémon to one area for the benefit of all who pass by, onto a “Pokéstops,” which can be landmarks, statues or buildings around the city. Confederation Park, with its four lures and central location, makes it a prime spot to gather. A couple hundred people gathered during a Pokemon Go Lure Party in Confederation Park Tuesday July 19, 2016. A couple hundred people gathered during a Pokemon Go Lure Party in Confederation Park Tuesday July 19, 2016. Tuesday's party was spoiled somewhat by the fact that the game's servers were on and off for the majority of the afternoon, forcing some to head elsewhere downtown in search of better service. Most of the crowd seemed happy to lounge on the grass in the sun (the high was a pleasant 23 C), munch on snacks and talk strategy with fellow players. (You can watch a replay of our Facebook Live from Confederation Park here .) Pokémon Go has become ubiquitous since it was officially released July 6 and, after a bit of a wait, on July 17 in Canada. That didn't seem to matter much, as thousands of Canadians had already downloaded the game through craftier means, either by signing up for a U.S. iTunes account or by “side-loading” the game on Android phones straight to the device, rather than through the app store. Meanwhile, the game reportedly accrued at least 7.5 million US downloads from July 7 to 11, and has been raking in an estimated revenue of $1.6 million per day in Apple's iOS store alone, according to Forbes. Job has spent around $20 on in-app purchases (the app is free but players can buy items like Poké Balls and lures from the game's store). However, there are people Job knows that have "spent hundreds of dollars" on the game. Some stray notes from the day: 1 . Mayor Jim Watson was checking out the start of the event at 2 p.m. with Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney. This reporter had prepared for players "Who's That Pokémon?", a game from the television show in the 1990s where viewers try to guess the Pokémon by its silhouette alone. Watson's special assistant Will Bulmer, standing to the side and relatively silent up until this point, suddenly spoke up and rifled off the names in expert fashion, scoring an impressive six out of seven. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tries his hand at Pokemon Go during a Pokemon Go Lure Party in Confederation Park Tuesday July 19, 2016. 2 . Consensus pro tip of the day: Stock up on lower-level Pokémon that are common and easy to evolve (Pidgeys, Weedles, Caterpies). Then use your lucky egg (an item that gives the player double the experience points) while evolving that collection of Pokémon. You'll get 1,000 experience points per evolution instead of 500, cutting down the time it takes to level up, and thus attracting stronger Pokémon and better items. 3 . A 55-year-old man named Pierre, who didn't want his last name used, was one of the lone people at Confederation Park on Tuesday not playing the game. He had come to the park intending to read his paper but instead found himself distracted by the horde of players. "Sometimes people find a Pokémon here or there," he said, gesturing around him, "and then all of a sudden 200 people are moving over here. I think it's a crazy game. I don't think it will last long. I hope not." 4 . The game has received a fair amount of flak from those bemoaning increased cellphone use or those opposed to adult-aged players playing a children's game. Job had a few choice words for those who are critical: "It's really funny because people are always going to have something to complain about. When people don't go outside, they go, 'Oh my god, you nerds go outside.' And when we do, they go, 'Not like that!' So I don't know what you want from us. I think it comes down to people doing what they enjoy out in public with their friends having a great time. What are you doing? You're on Facebook, complaining." Kayla Fong kicks off her sandals to play Pokemon Go during a Pokemon Go Lure Party in Confederation Park Tuesday July 19, 2016.

Vice null Time20 July 2016 02:00:44