By Trevor Busch
While originally proposed by town council as a safe location for an exchange of goods between private sellers, a lack of public parking at the Taber Police Station has thrown a wrench in the works.
At their Feb. 10 meeting, council had passed a motion to have administration investigate the concept of having two designated parking spaces outside the Taber Police Station to allow for the safe exchange of legal items, and to submit the results to the Taber Municipal Police Commission (TMPC) for review.
In a report prepared by Chief Graham Abela, he explained the 14 parking spaces at the police station are currently at a premium, as various organizations utilize the lot including Victim Services. There are also two handicap parking stalls, dropping the useable total to 11.
“This actually leaves very little space for the clients of the police service or the users of the facility to park,” stated Abela in his report at the TMPC’s June 17 meeting. “Our employee lot is usually close to full, especially during the day. Also, as the public lot is full, often members of the public park in the employee parking section. This causes our employees to be concerned about their own vehicles and property as often the clients we engage in are not happy with the police.”
While acknowledging the merit of the idea, Abela felt the Taber Police Station would not be ideal.
“The Taber police recognize that a safe place for the exchange of goods that are traded or sold online is an innovative and safe practice. The idea is solid, but we don’t think the police station is the best place.”
Abela also pointed out users of the Dreaddy Room have complained about the lack of public parking available. The 50-seat training/public room is often used in the evening and parking spots are limited.
“People end up street parking or parking in the empty lot west of the police station,” reads Abela’s report. “Although we understand that we can’t accommodate all requests, by adding this complexity to the parking milieu, we are adding to the concern, not alleviating it. It is my view that we do not have the room at our facility to create these parking spots as requested. If council is adamant that this program moves forward, the space located east of the employee parking lot may need to be reconfigured to allow for this.”
Abela did note that on two occasions in the past when parents were concerned about an exchange of children for purposes of court orders (not involving goods), the police have received a call for that service.
“When officers are available, we have assisted the public in this regard, mostly at locations other than the police station, but we have also accommodated here. This has been done without the need to designate parking spaces. Our partners in community are aware of this and we have been able to create this ‘program’ without the need of designating the space.”
An alternative location, such as the Taber Community Centre parking lot, was suggested as being more appropriate.
“It is my opinion that safe exchanges do and can occur without the necessity of creating or designating parking space at the police station for that sole purpose. With that said, we believe that the town has spaces more readily available and accessible for the purposes of establishing this program elsewhere. We suggest the community center parking lot, which is already under CCTV recording and in a public venue.”
The commission voted unanimously to accept the report and asked that it be forwarded to council for their consideration, with a letter of recommendation to consider alternatives to parking designations.