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City ban on washing cars for cash could be lifted

The Corporation of Hamilton may reconsider a ban on people washing cars for cash on its property in light of the economic crisis, Mayor Charles Gosling said last night.

And Roxanne Christopher, business development officer for the Economic Empowerment Zone agency, said she's mulling plans to give washers their own spot in the private BIU car park.

The news emerged last night when frustrated car cleaner Andre Simmons raised the issue at a Corporation public meeting.

He explained he's held a range of jobs in the city for more than 30 years, including as a carriage driver and entertainer, but times are hard.

“I went in the last four years from working six nights per week to what may this year be one night per week. I've had to use different avenues to support myself and my family,” he told Mr Gosling.

“I've had to struggle to make money these past few years. I have a small car cleaning service. It's mobile, but right now I can't afford to license my van or get it insured.

“Over the last few months I've encountered situations with the police and the Corporation with car washing within the city. If I operate a business, is there any avenue for me to do my work in car parks? If not, how to we have a designated area?”

The Corporation banned all car washing on its property in 2005 following complaints from motorists that they were being aggressively harassed to have their cars cleaned.

The then Mayor, Lawson Mapp, said the decision had not been taken lightly, as he appreciated the financial impact the ban would have on the many informal enterprises operating for years throughout the city.

Mr Gosling told Mr Simmons last night that the ban is still active, but he is willing to reconsider the issue.

“Given the state of the economy I would be remiss not to hear you. Come in and make representations to the Corporation. We will certainly give you that opportunity,” he said.

“There have been problems in the past. We regularly receive complaints from people using the car parks about being harassed and told they can't park in particular areas.”

He said despite the ban: “The process hasn't stopped. The process continues, so we need to find some way in which we can better police it so people who are legitimate car washers are able to trade.”

He warned those who wish to engage in antisocial behaviour: “Those looking for other avenues of business have no choice but to go elsewhere.”

Ms Christopher then told Mr Simmons her agency is working on a plan to organise the city's car washers, giving them a home at the private BIU parking lot on Union Street.

“We've been working with the BIU on cleaning up this area. We would like the car washers to wear T-shirts. We're looking to invest in cabinets to store their wares,” she explained.

However, she warned that anything other than professional behaviour would not be tolerated.

“The car washers must be businessmen,” she stressed.

She encouraged Mr Simmons to speak to the other car washers and then come to speak to the agency.

“We will support you and try to make it happen in an organised manner,” she said.

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Published March 30, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated March 30, 2011 at 11:22 am)

City ban on washing cars for cash could be lifted

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