No parking reprieve in Toronto during COVID-19 state of emergency

Toronto Sun March 18, 2020 Jenny Yuen

Even a state of emergency won’t get you off the hook for a parking ticket in Toronto.

A resident in the west-end of the city said she was enraged to see a parking enforcement officer ticketing a car in her neighbourhood — on St. Johns Rd., in the Jane and Annette Sts. area — the same morning Premier Doug Ford declared the province in a state of emergency over COVID-19.

“Some things are still the same in our city,” Michelle Cliffe told the Sun. “The first thing I saw when I looked out the window was this. Tears came next.”

Toronto Police said parking enforcement has not made any significant changes to its enforcement practices.

“While we appreciate the parking implications for many who are now working from home or trying to access goods and services, we must balance that with our responsibility to keep our roads safe and accessible,” police spokesman Meaghan Gray said.

“If and when any changes are made, they will be communicated publicly at that time.”

Councillor Stephen Holyday said the city is aware of this issue — one of many — and is working on them as the pandemic response continues to quickly evolve.

“If a resident receives a ticket because of (a COVID-19-related reason), they should document the circumstance and just know there’s an administrative penalty dispute mechanism and they should bring that forward,” he said.

“Citizens should know there still needs to be order in the city and we rely on that. And sometimes, there’s safety issues around parking. But if there’s an unusual circumstance when someone got a ticket, use the dispute mechanism. Priorities are going to have to be looked at because traffic congestion isn’t the same.”

Councillor Jim Karygiannis said drivers need to follow the rules of parking, regardless of whether there’s a state of emergency or not.

“State of emergency does not excuse you from breaking the rules,” he said.

“The fact that somebody claims that it’s a state of emergency and you should be able to park anywhere, sorry, that doesn’t cut it. If you’re parking somewhere and blocking the street, or causing impediment to first responders, that person should be fined and should know better.”