The man people love to hate: Tag along with a P.E.I. meter man

By Pat Martel 

Tom Kennedy says the job is tame compared to his 30-year policing career

Most people would probably have second thoughts about taking a job where members of the public berate you — or even swear at you, for simply doing your job.

"Oh, I've been sworn at," said Tom Kennedy, one of the four commissionaires enforcing pay parking in downtown Charlottetown.

"I'm not going to make them happy, but I don't enter into any type of rebuttal or whatever. I just move on," he said.

Tom Kennedy says he's seeing more drivers using the Hotspot app to pay for parking, but he warns those drivers still have to make sure they're topped up to avoid a ticket. (Pat Martel/CBC)

He has patrolled his four-block section of the downtown for the past five years, and the stress is a lot less than it was in his previous career.

"I was a policeman for 30 years with the O.P.P. [Ontario Provincial Police] but whatever people say to me here on the streets of Charlottetown about what I do now is nothing compared to what you deal with when you're policing, so it's very tame."

While dealing with irate drivers may be tamer than policing, it's not always easy street.

"There have been a few times when people will be annoyed and what they want to do is show their annoyance with me," said Kennedy.

Tom Kennedy suggests drivers read the instructions on each meter to determine how much time they have before it expires. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"They'll get in their vehicle and I'll still be close by and the odd time, they'll speed out or get close to me just to show they're annoyed. I just walk away."

Excuses, excuses

He hears a lot of excuses from drivers whose time is up. 

"They know the meter is expiring and they say to me, 'I paid enough money and I'm here and it must have just ran out,'" he said.

If Kennedy hasn't finished writing the parking ticket, the driver may just get off, but if the ticket is on the vehicle — "I won't take it back," he said.

Drivers who make sure they put enough money in the parking meter won't find a ticket on their windshield. 

Kennedy advises drivers to dispute the ticket if they don't think it was warranted.

Despite the occasional minor incidents, Kennedy said the positives by far outweigh the negatives.

"I classify myself as a people person and I do enjoy the dialogue with people I meet on the street," he said.

Tom Kennedy is one of four commissionaires in the city of Charlottetown who enforce the parking bylaws. 

Kennedy also acts as an unofficial tour guide every summer. 

"When the tourists are off the cruise ships and they're asking for things to see, places to go, they're asking for reference points and I just enjoy that whole time of talking to them."

Tom Kennedy says, 'Not everybody's going to be happy when you get that ticket, but for the most part I really enjoy the people in Charlottetown and they do respect what I do.' 

Kennedy works on the streets from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. He does his route twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.

Since he's outside most of the day, Kennedy knows to dress for the cold.

"I've got four layers on from the waist up, couple layers below," he said.

Kennedy puts up with the cold days, but you can tell he yearns for summer.

"I think the best is to go out on a nice sunny day. It's warm, a bit of a breeze and it's busy. People are up and down the streets and I'm constantly interacting with people and before you know it the day is over."