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This week's word on the street: Parking


Calls to my office about parking come in many shapes and sizes:

  • "Why can’t we park anywhere for longer than three hours?"

  • "Parking is impossible at my kid's school!"

  • "How can I park downtown with a lane of construction on every block?"

  • "Why are construction workers allowed to park on my street?"

  • "Can't I just park on my front lawn?"

My DVN Ward Team spend lots of time on these questions — clearly it’s on your mind. Parking rules are somewhat adaptable, so we can sometimes provide the change you're looking for. There are, however, some non-negotiables. North York design Firstly, parking on the street overnight is illegal throughout the former North York, Etobicoke and most of Scarborough. In these areas, it is illegal to park on any street for longer than three hours. In the old days, North York led the way on creating these rules.

North York was designed as a suburban setting with off-road parking planned into every parcel of land, with few exceptions. Taking lessons from the mature city to the south, early North York planners required generous driveways for single-family dwellings and parking lots for all multi-residential apartment buildings. They secured generous easements wherever there were no sidewalks with the idea that one day, every home would have a sidewalk in front. The feeling was pedestrians should be safe from cars speeding down our generous new roads and cars should be tucked in garages to leave sidewalks clear and safe for kids to play. This expansive planning resulted in daunting snow clearing for every homeowner, so the City of North York put in place the greatest snow clearing in the land — not just prompt ploughing but also professional sidewalk clearing. Later, a North York commissioner invented the windrow-clearing truck after his dear friend died of a heart attack digging out the heavy snow left in his driveway.

Default rules Today, the default parking rules extend to cover Etobicoke and Scarborough. As a result, the snow clearing service North York developed is provided in all three suburban regions and rarely does a car get in the way of doing a good job. The quality of these services is an issue for another column, but for this parking discussion it's fair to say that changing these parking rules would result in a radical overhaul of our winter street maintenance regime. So who is breaking the rules? We know from Don Valley North residents who live near the sites of new development that, every day, construction workers park in the nearest local street and stay longer than three hours. We send police officers to ticket them, which means for the next few weeks, workers simply take turns moving the cars every three hours.

In Henry Farm, we actually created "no parking any time" zones because the nearby development in Parkway Forest was going to continue for the better part of a decade. My office is happy to work with neighbourhoods to apply for a "no parking" zone, but residents must understand the rule will be enforced for everyone. In Henry Farm, a resident very thoroughly polled the street so the parking change was implemented smoothly. The same collaborative process is used when there are issues with school parking — we consult with the school principal, the parent council and the local community before we make changes. Downtown challenge Don Valley Northers who work downtown often complain about the number of lanes given to construction sites, sometimes for as long as 18 months. It disrupts not only car and cycling traffic but sometimes takes out valuable pay-and-display parking spots. The Mayor and downtown Councillors have worked hard to reduce this disruption lately, but there are a couple of things to consider here. First, thank your lucky stars we don’t have this challenge locally. Development lane closures are very rare up here, and can usually be coordinated to require only temporary lane closures where major arterial roads are concerned.

Downtown, where buildings are built right out to the lot line, vast amounts of underground public parking have been created over the last decade. When a development requests a lane closure, alternative parking options are analyzed. Private property There is one more non-negotiable: if you are thinking of creating more parking on your front lawn, you need to make a trip to the counter at North York Civic Centre. Municipalities everywhere — not just Toronto — are clamping down on paving surfaces on private property without permission. In every sub-division, calculations were made long ago to ensure the correct amount of natural absorption of storm water.

In these days of increasingly extreme weather, it's critical to consult with City Hall before widening driveways or paving parking. City staff will help you achieve what you want without exacerbating local basement flooding issues. And if you see a neighbour parking directly on the grass or notice any other chronic parking infractions in your area, let us know so we can send over a bylaw enforcement officer. Myself and my team are happy to address any questions or concerns and we have a local bylaw enforcement officer who can be the bad guy on our behalf. There really is a proper place for everyone’s car.


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