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Scarborough parking project could reshape enforcement across Toronto

Toronto police parking officers are visiting every street

Scarborough-Mirror October 14, 2019  Mike Adler 

Mark Weiser

Mark Weiser, president of the Midland Park Community Association, says most residents of his mid-Scarborough neighbourhood want to see street parking regulations enforced. – Mark Weiser photo


Parking ticket

Toronto Police parking enforcement officers are trying out a new approach in Scarborough. – Torstar file photo


Lalton Place

Lalton Place in Scarborough’s Guildwood area was visited by a Toronto Police parking officer on Sept. 10. – Mike Adler/Torstar

Early on Sept. 10, a Blue Hornet visited Carl Doose’s little cul-de-sac for the first time anyone could remember.

The Toronto police parking officer first chalked tires on Lalton Place, then came back at 4 a.m. to place tickets on windshields.

The neighbours, all friendly, talked. Nobody had lodged a complaint, which is usually the only way the city’s three-hour parking bylaw is enforced.

Lalton, in Scarborough’s Guildwood area, had experienced an experiment in street-by-street enforcement still rolling its way across Scarborough.

The $30 ticket was Doose’s first in 20 years, and he doesn’t like it.

“It’s a backhanded cash grab,” he said, by a city that needs more revenue but doesn’t have the courage to raise taxes.

No permit parking is allowed in Scarborough, and driveway widths are, supposedly, strictly controlled.

When Doose’s two university-age sons are home, there are four cars and parking for three.

“So, what am I supposed to do?” he asked this week, adding many neighbours are in a similar situation.

“There’s no legal option.”

The Scarborough project that the Parking Enforcement East office is running started in June, and George Johnstone, officer in charge of operations, says boosting ticket numbers isn’t the goal.

There are streets where someone always complains about cars on the street, Johnstone said. Some pockets of the city get hit all the time, others not at all.

During the experiment, Scarborough’s parking enforcement remains complaint-driven, Johnstone said, but officers are checking every street at least once.

After results are looked at in December, he said, enforcement may change to create a Toronto-wide strategy closer to being “fair and equitable.”

Doose is among many Scarborough residents who say they’re not doing anything wrong parking in front of their homes.

Scarborough houses, he said, “were built for different times” when households had fewer drivers, and city officials aren’t dealing with the reality of larger families.

But in mid-Scarborough’s Midland Park area, Mark Weiser, president of the local community association, said those larger families and shared homes create an “untenable situation.”

“This neighbourhood was not built for the type of density it’s now seeing,” he said Monday, standing his bicycle on Dorcot Avenue.

“You’re having three, four or five drivers in a house that’s meant to hold one or two cars.”

Though he understands why larger households move into Midland Park, Weiser said many residents are happy to see parking bylaws enforced. Otherwise, why have bylaws, he asked.

“The streets are supposed to be open — they’re not parking lots — and yet we’re headed in that direction.”

In Agincourt, local Coun. Jim Karygiannis said he aggressively asked the city for more enforcement.

“I’ve told them, ‘In my ward, you’ve got carte blanche,” he said.

A 2016 community council vote banned overnight parking in Karygiannis’ district north of Finch Avenue. Next year, the same applies to the ward’s southern portion.

“The rules are there to be obeyed,” argued Karygiannis, who said the number of reported rooming houses in Agincourt is down since the ban.

Got an extra car? Ask for space on a neighbour’s driveway, and “get them a bottle of wine for Christmas,” Karygiannis suggested.

Scarborough-Rouge River Coun. Jennifer McKelvie, however, said she hears from constituents, “who wake up at 2:30 or 3 a.m. to move cars so they can’t be tagged” under the three-hour rule.

Scarborough housing prices “have increased exponentially” over a decade, and this means grown children live with parents longer, while parking space remains the same, she said.

When a family has four cars but driveway space only for two, that’s a problem, said McKelvie.

In 2009, Scarborough councillors created an “exclusion zone” to keep residents on all but a handful of streets from applying for permit parking. Social-policy analyst John Stapleton has called this procedural roadblock a “ridiculous experiment in social engineering” that punishes larger families and doesn’t affect low-income rooming-house tenants.

Scarborough’s prohibition on applying for street parking “needs to be looked at,” said McKelvie, “and I am committed to working towards a creative solution.”

Paul Ainslie, Scarborough-Guildwood’s councillor, has said he’s disappointed there was no “well-advertised public notice” advising residents of a new enforcement strategy.

Complaint-driven enforcement always “served our community well,” Ainslie wrote in a message to Scarborough councillors last month.