‘Parking nightmare’: Toronto residents in disbelief after meters show up on street

Residents who paid for permit parking on one Toronto street say they can't find spots to park. They say a recent decision by the city, which was intended to help, could instead make things much worse.

By Pat Taney

Ilda Martins lives on a small stretch of Roxton Road, off Dundas Street West, close to the bustling Ossington Avenue.

“I love this neighbourhood. There’s a lot to do, but with that comes big problems,” she said.

Martins, who has a paid parking permit, says it’s a daily battle to find a spot anywhere near her home.

“We’re here an hour and a half waiting for parking.”

That’s even after Martins asked the city to establish a one-hour parking limit for non-permitted vehicles, which the city did.

“They never enforced that,” she admitted. “We have drivers parking here and then taking a streetcar into work, leaving their cars here for hours on end.”

Up until recently, parking on her side street was free for one hour between 7 a.m. and 12:01 a.m. Martins and her neighbours have made numerous requests to the Toronto Parking Authority to step up enforcement on the one-hour limit but to no avail. Then, earlier this month, Martins said she noticed a change.

“They installed a parking meter here.”

1-hour parking limit signs removed, residents claim

Martins says the newly installed meter gives drivers more time to park their vehicles. The one-hour limit signs, she and others fought to get put up here, were taken down.

“The meter has a max time of three hours now, which is so frustrating. This will not help us,” she said.

Toronto City Councillor Dianne Saxe, who represents Martins’ ward of University-Rosedale, says the parking meter is one of many that will be put up on other residential side streets off busy areas across the city. Saxe says the intent is to deter drivers from overstaying their welcome.

“This should be good news,” Saxe said. “Free parking on these streets has been the problem; these meters will help, especially because we’ve just increased the parking fees and fines. So we’re expecting to see an increase in compliance.”

Saxe also says the meters are needed to increase revenue as many Green P lots will be used to build affordable housing.

Green P
This image shows a parking sign in Toronto. After a debate over what the land is best used for, the city council approved the review of surface parking lots as potential affordable housing sites. Photo: Flickr.

“Taking away those lots will be a big hit to the Toronto Parking Authority, and these meters will help with that,” Saxe noted. “People who live in these areas pay for their permit parking. Why should non-residents be parking for free?”

The councillor says several studies back up the decision to install the meters.

“There’s extensive research on why free parking is really bad for a city. Public road space is precious and scarce. Free parking doesn’t provide any financial return to the city for the enormous amount that our roads cost.”

Communication to locals should have been better, Saxe says

Martins feels residents should have had a say on the amount of time allowed on the meters. Saxe admits that the city did a poor job of communicating the change.

“Turns out nobody told the residents, and this was a surprise to me.”

Saxe said her office has been getting numerous calls from concerned residents with parking permits, confused about whether they must also pay for the meters that are being installed.

“They don’t,” Saxe said. “These are strictly for vehicles without permits.”

Martins still doesn’t believe the meters will help, especially given the three-hour max parking limit. Speakers Corner asked Saxe about that. She spoke with the Toronto Parking Authority, who told her the three-hour maximum is standard across the city.

“But it’s not difficult to change the settings to reduce the maximum stay if it turns out that this isn’t reducing parking conflicts. I have asked them to please monitor this area and let us know,” the councillor said.

Martins doesn’t want to wait and see if it works. She’s requested a meeting with the city and Saxe’s office but claims she has not heard back.

“Why can’t they just enforce the one-hour limit we had here? If the city is concerned about revenue, they could be collecting a ton of money by ticketing the vehicles that are constantly in violation,” Martins said. “To install this meter without our input isn’t right. We should have a say because we’re the ones dealing with this parking nightmare.”

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