A Calgary woman is warning others who plug in their vehicles during frigid temperatures that it could cost them more than just a high power bill.
Cassie Festa told Global News her problems started when she plugged in her car during a particularly bad cold spell around Christmas. She said every time she came out of her home, her vehicle was unplugged.
“My car was being unplugged,” she said, “almost daily for two-and-a-half weeks.”
The single mom said it was a hardship, causing her car to conk out and her battery to drain. She said she was eventually forced to buy a new battery and put a note on her vehicle for people to stop pulling the plug.
But when that didn’t work, she set up a camera hidden in her trees. A recording provided to Global News shows a woman walking by with her dog, unplugging Festa’s extension cord and throwing it onto the grass.
“It was with force,” she added. “So there’s damage to my grill, there’s damage to my block-heater cord.”
About $700 worth of damage she said she was quoted, but added it didn’t end there.
Festa said a City of Calgary bylaw officer then came to her home and told her if she continued to run her extension cord across the sidewalk she could face a fine of $100 or more.
“Some people don’t have the luxury of having a garage or even a parking pad,” she said. “I don’t have anywhere else to park.”
City to ammend extension cord bylaw
Festa questions the City of Calgary’s bylaws and permits when it comes to the street use of plug-in cords, adding there should be options for those who only have street parking.
“I asked him (bylaw officer) if I could put a mat over top of the cord, and he said that was illegal. I also asked if I could build an archway and he said that was illegal.”
A bylaw spokesperson told Global News in a statement that these cords have an inherent risk when they’re on public sidewalks.
“They are not allowed or approved (laying flat over the sidewalk or overhanging in any fashion),” the spokesperson said. “The cords can easily be covered by snow or missed while people are utilizing the sidewalk.”
The statement went on to say the practice has caused injuries to citizens and damage to vehicles and while there is no fix-all solution to front-street parkers, it would be beneficial to have a booster pack to aid with dead batteries.
Festa is adamant there needs to be an exception to the bylaw.
“Thousands of people in our city alone have to plug in our vehicles outside,” she said. “This is a major issue.”
Maintenance tips so your vehicle starts in a deep freeze: plug it in, tune it up, pack a roadside kit
Festa did file a police report on the damage done to her vehicle but said she was told that there was no proof of any clear intent by the woman in the video to cause any damage.
The Calgary Police Service confirmed to Global News the case was investigated but there was “no sufficient evidence to say for sure that the damages were caused by the extension cord being pulled out.”
“Even though the cord placed out was not suppose(d) to be there, two wrongs do not make a right in this instance,” the City of Calgary said to Global News.
The city advised people instead call 311 to report the infraction if they do come across the safety hazard.
Festa suggested going even one step further.
“People just need to be more kind and considerate,” she said.
“If there is a problem, perhaps go and talk to the neighbour instead of putting the law in your own hands and causing extensive damage to someone’s property.”
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.