Long-Time Parking Enforcement Officer Retiring
June 11, 2014
Courtenay’s long-time parking enforcement officer will be putting away his ticket book for the last time at the end of June.
Commissionaire (Warrant Officer) George Wedge has been patrolling Courtenay’s streets for 15 years, following a 27 year military career and two more years elsewhere with the Corps of Commissionaires. Along the way he’s handed out thousands of tickets, but openly acknowledges he’s a bit of a softy.
“I’ve been known to give people a break,” said Wedge. “The aim was always to educate people; I was famous for my lectures.”
Wedge will take fond memories of the job with him. “My favourite thing about this job was the people I met. There are so many fantastic people in the Valley, and I’ve made a lot of friends – even the ones I gave tickets to. People usually understand I’m just doing my job.
“I especially liked meeting visitors. I speak French and some German, and people are surprised when I can greet them in their language,” added Wedge.
His daily walking route would exhaust many people half his age: eight kilometres in the morning, followed by another eight kilometres in the afternoon. And if his walks over the past 15 years were added together, he could have circumnavigated the globe.
This explains why Wedge has gone through about 15 pairs of shoes, resoling each pair several times.
One piece of equipment that hasn’t changed is his trusty old film camera. “I like that camera, and I know how to use it, so I never wanted to change it,” he said.
His greatest challenge wasn’t distance; it was the weather. “I’ve been out in all sorts of weather; rain, snow, freezing cold, you name it,” said Wedge. “But it’s hard to write a ticket when your ticket book is soaking wet. If that happened, I’d just tell people, ‘It’s your lucky day’.”
“I always tried to be friendly,” added Wedge. “A lot of people are stressed out, and then I come along.”
Councillor Bill Anglin, on behalf of the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association, said Wedge was always a friendly and familiar face in downtown Courtenay. “Not only did he make sure that the downtown parking bylaw was fairly abided by, he was also a friend”, said Anglin. “Merchants and customers alike enjoyed his welcoming personality and his friendly conversation. If you needed directions to a specific business, George was our human ‘way-finder’. He knew every nook & cranny of downtown Courtenay.
“We will miss his presence and his conversation in our beautiful downtown, and wish him a long and relaxing retirement.”
In addition to parking enforcement, over the years Wedge located several stolen vehicles. He also was a regular at the Market Days dunk tank, dressed in his uniform. “For some reason people just loved dunking me,” he laughed.
Mayor Larry Jangula said Wedge is going to be missed, noting, “George is more than a parking enforcement officer – he’s an ambassador for our community. He’s been a fixture on our streets for years, and so many people know him. He’s a very kind man. We’re grateful for his service and wish him all the best in his retirement, it’s certainly well-deserved.”
Drivers shouldn’t expect a parking free-for-all on downtown streets once Wedge retires, however. Commissionaire (Sgt) Kevin Gurnham will be taking over Wedge’s role for the City of Courtenay, with one small change – he’ll have a digital camera tucked in his pocket.
Wedge expressed appreciation to City staff as well as the courthouse staff and bailiff he has worked with over the years. He and wife Jane plan to start off his retirement with a boat cruise, followed by trips to visit family.