Draconian parking by-laws are nothing new in Toronto, but a new by-law that came into effect October 1 bites more than most. The new law allows residents with a single-car garage to park one vehicle in the garage and one on the driveway. Those with double garages may park two vehicles in the garage and two on the driveway. Park an additional overnight guest in the driveway and you're breaking the law!
So to sum up, if you have a single car garage with a long private driveway with parking for more than car, you could face a fine if you contravene the by-law and put two cars in the driveway. Instead, you should park on the street (where exactly?) and pay the permit fee, according to the City of Toronto.
Residents who regularly parked several cars on the driveway in the past are still allowed to do so, if they can prove it. But the city is relying on complaints from neighbours in enforcing the restriction, which opens the door to abuse. Fines will be determined in court, and could reach up to $5,000. In principal, I dislike laws that foster animosity between neighbours and this one could be particularly contentious.
My own poll of East End Toronto homeowners shows a reaction between disbelief and outright revolution. How can the city tell us how many cars to park on a driveway we pay own and pay taxes on? Are we to be forced to pay street parking permits because some residents are offended by the aesthetics of actually having parked cars in the driveway? Will this make it more difficult for emergency services to pass through our narrow city streets if they are clogged with cars? What about winter snow removal?
Our part of Toronto, which includes the Beaches, Riverdale, Leslieville, and Danforth Village is on average, about 90 to 100 years old. Builders saw little need for residential parking spaces at that time. Most likely if you owned a car back then, you wouldn't be living here, in what was largely a 'blue collar' neighbourhood. That is why having any kind of parking on your own property is such a plus in East End Toronto.
So why would the city councillors eliminate much needed parking? It seems at first blush that some councillors may not have realized what they were voting for. The original by-law was passed pre-GTA amalgamation, after some city residents complained others were turning their driveways into parking lots. The recent city-wide law is just one part of the new harmonized zoning bylaw that Toronto City Council quietly passed at its last meeting of the summer and it appears the consequences were not spelled out to Council very clearly. Gloria Lindsay Luby, councillor for Etobicoke Centre, voted for the omnibus zoning bylaw but said she wasn’t aware of the driveway restrictions.
I think it's fair that we have some community standards, but given that there is more downside than upside for those of us who live in the old City of Toronto boundaries, why not have a different standard for older communities that may have narrower streets, or little off street parking? What do you think?