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30 extra minutes. A $98 parking-lot ticket. One fuming downtown London visitor

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A chaplain who says she paid $6 to park for 90 minutes in a private downtown London lot is fuming after her meeting ran 30 minutes late and she was hit with what she calls a “ridiculous” penalty – $98.

Stratford resident Rhonda Read is the senior chaplain for her local Royal Canadian Legion branch and she was in London last Thursday for a meeting. She parked at a private lot downtown, at the intersection of Richmond and Pall Mall streets, paying $6 for 90 minutes.

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The meeting, she said, ran longer than expected. She returned to her vehicle to see a piece of paper tucked beneath the windshield, always an unfortunate surprise for drivers. But the fee being charged, nearly $100 for an extra 30 minutes, was beyond unexpected.

“I have no problem paying what I owe,” Read said, adding she thinks a fee of $5 to $10 would be appropriate in her case. “But I don’t want to pay something that’s egregious and over-inflated.”

So, what happens if she doesn’t pay? Read says she spoke to an Impark employee on Monday and was told she has two options: pay the money or take Impark to court.

“If there’s non-payment, it just immediately goes to collections,” Read said she was told.

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Read has contacted city hall, arguing the local government should play a role in helping consumers who feel they’re facing unfair prices.

“I feel that it’s the government’s responsibility to respond. This is a partnership that they’ve got with a retailer or a property owner in their downtown core,” Read wrote in an email sent to city hall officials.

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In response, a member of city hall’s parking enforcement team noted the matter is outside the municipality’s jurisdiction.

The city’s parking boss, Sean Steenbergen, told The Free Press through a spokesperson city hall has no relationship with Impark.. While the local government does regulate private lots through the business licensing bylaw, covering such things as proper signage, it doesn’t regulate fees charged to drivers who overstay their paid ticket.

Impark, also known as Imperial Parking, is the third largest parking management company in North America and has roughly 20 parking lots in London. Impark officials did not respond to Free Press requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.

nbrennan@postmedia.com

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