War of words over painted property near Immaculate Heart of Mary School

A painted property that shares a back lane with Immaculate Heart of Mary School continues to catch the attention of parents dropping off their kids.

CTV News spoke with the homeowner Linda Weiss, who told CTV News she painted an initial “God is watching you park illegally” on her garage a few years ago, because parents would park in the back lane for school pick up or drop off and block residents from leaving the garages behind their homes.

Weiss said when she approached parents about the parking issue, she’d been told things like “go back into your house.”

Weiss said she added more messages — “Keep off my property you law breakers” and “Yes dumb little school boy people do live here!” — after interactions with parents and students.

Weiss also said red scribbles covering her garage, fence and her neighbour’s fence weren’t her doing, and that someone had vandalized the property.

James Favel also shares the lane with Immaculate Heart of Mary School and said many parents continue to park where they shouldn’t in the back lane.

“The school has gone as far as to put up no stopping in the pedestrian loading zone, and they disregard that even still,” said Favel.

Meanwhile, parents told CTV News they are upset over the signage and wish it could be removed.

“Well you don’t write something like that on garage doors,” said Maryna Mikawoz.

Another parent, Nataliya Demkowicz, said she didn’t want her children reading the messages daily.

“They go here every day. They see it, they read it,” said Demkowicz.

In a statement to CTV News, Immaculate Heart of Mary School said it has hosted community meetings with neighbours to discuss the safe and convenient use of the shared, public roadways writing:

“The school has also taken the initiative to:

  • acquire signage for the back lane, reinforcing the message with school drivers, to not stop or park along the south side of the lane (where the neighbours garages / driveways are located)
  • have staff present in the back lane at dismissal time to ensure the safety of the children and compliance with the procedures that have been established;
  • engage the School Safety Patrols to place pylons to ensure a safe loading zone for children in the back lane;
  • develop correspondence that is regularly sent to school parents, regarding the traffic procedures around the school, respecting our neighbours’ access to their properties, and the safety of the children.”

Under the category “Safety and Transportation”, the school has a handbook on its website that reads:

“To ensure children’s safety, parents are to drop off and pick up the children at the back door only. Enter the back lane from Flora Avenue and exit onto McKenzie Street. Traffic should travel in a clockwise rotation. When stopping in the back lane please pull off to the side and leave the centre lane open to keep the flow of traffic moving. There is NO STOPPING 10 feet either side of the back pedestrian gate.

There is no parking allowed in any back lanes in the city of Winnipeg.”

It is far from the only school to grapple with managing such traffic.

The City of Winnipeg said parking authority officials visit Winnipeg schools on a rotating basis to monitor parking activity, while also giving out warnings or tickets to people violating parking bylaws.

Both the Winnipeg School Division and Louis Riel School Division noted congestion during school pick up and drop off was an ongoing issue, particularly at older schools in residential areas where parking is limited and the streets might be narrower.

The Winnipeg School Division said it had installed “stop and drop” signs at some schools, and continued to look at preventative measures regarding double parking and congestion.

The Louis Riel School Division said it was continuing to work with parents and students to change patterns of behavior that lead to congestion in front of schools, and said alternate drop-off locations were used at some schools. The school division said it also encouraged children to walk to school or walk from alternate drop-off locations whenever possible.