A visit to support businesses in uptown Waterloo turned out to be a little pricier than Lori Tone was expecting.

Tone lives outside the city, in Linwood. She says she doesn’t normally go shopping in Waterloo, but felt she should give it a try because of all she’d heard about businesses in the uptown area struggling due to construction.

“We hear it on the radio and the TV all the time – ‘please come downtown, please come downtown,’” she said in an interview.

Tone says she and her friend enjoyed their afternoon of lunch and shopping in uptown, estimating that they spent about $4,000 during their visit.

That enjoyment came to an abrupt halt, she says, when they got back to their cars – which had been parked beside each other at the same time.

“I had a ticket for $35, and my friend did not,” Tone said.

Tone says that there were signs posted warning of the two-hour parking limit in the parking lot she chose, but she still has two concerns.

For one, she wonders why only her vehicle was ticketed, and not her friend’s in the next spot over.

She’s also wondering why, if businesses in the area are hurting, bylaw officers are still issuing parking tickets.

“Why are they asking people to come down and then penalizing them? It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

City officials say the two-hour limit in uptown surface lots is about ensuring parking spots remain available through the day, for whoever may want to use them.

“We’re trying to set a level playing field, so that customers as well as employees … are treated equally,” said Shayne Turner, the city’s director of municipal enforcement services.

Anyone planning a longer stay in the uptown area than two hours should use the six-storey parkade along Willis Way, Turner said.

In uptown Waterloo, King Street is expected to remain closed between William and Erb streets until December.

Tone says she likely won’t make another uptown shopping excursion until then.

“I’m going to wait until the construction is done and there’s more parking available,” she said.

Turner said he wasn’t sure why Tone’s vehicle was ticketed and her friend’s not. Bylaw officers can look into situations like those on request, he said.