Smart car parking tale gets rough ride with readers

A Halifax driver who thought her Smart car was a ticket to free parking downtown is getting dinged online.

Margot Melanson used to park her micro-car in front of Province House, near her work. She could squeeze into a spot between two vehicles at the parking meters, without getting a scratch or paying a dime.

She told her story to CBC News last week, and it touched a nerve with readers. There were more than 240 comments as of Monday afternoon. She has some admirers, but many people are outraged with her, and some are downright nasty.

"I didn't sleep very well last night," Melanson told CBC.

Melanson took a different route to work on Monday. She left her Smart car in a parking garage and walked.

"I was truly afraid to bring it downtown today. I was frightened someone would do something to it," she said.

Melanson was issued only one $25 ticket in three months. Parking authorities were stumped.

Now, the city says Melanson was parking illegally. Her bumper would normally sit about six or seven metres from the parking meter, which is too far.

"The front of the vehicle can't be farther than one metre from the rear of the parking meter," said Michaelyn Thompson, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

With all of the publicity, it wouldn't be surprising to see parking officers writing up the next Smart car that pulls the same trick.

Melanson doesn't know when she'll venture out with her car again. She says she learned a valuable lesson: If you find a good place to park downtown, keep it to yourself.

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