Councillor Josh Matlow

Inside Toronto: City committee approves $150 fine for illegal stopping during rush hour

January 5, 2012

Drivers who block lanes of busy streets during rush hour could be paying a $150 fine, if council goes along with a recommendation from the public works and infrastructure committee.

The committee made the recommendations yesterday morning, after hearing from the public and considering a motion from city councillors Josh Matlow and Mike Layton.

The two had suggested a much higher fine, hiking it from the current $60 to $500. City staff agreed with the principle but not the amount, and suggested a more modest – but still steep – $150.

Trinity-Spadina Councillor Layton congratulated staff on coming up with the plan.

“This takes very seriously the issues of gridlock and cycling safety on major streets – it’s something that’s costing our city with significant productivity and putting lives and safety at risk… $150 is not an insignificant fine.”

The fine would target motorists who pull over to the curb on a major street during the evening rush hour, creating a bottleneck for cyclists and often stopping car traffic dead.

Some councillors thought it would make sense to be even tougher.

Willowdale Councillor David Shiner suggested enforcement officers use a boot – a metal clamp that locks around a vehicle’s front wheel to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere until a tow truck arrives.

But other councillors thought that was going too far and would only exacerbate the situation.

“The real goal of the exercise is to get the cars out of the way,” said Don Valley West Councillor John Parker.

“That’s a matter of enforcement. It’s not the punishment that acts as a deterrent, it’s the certainty of apprehension and prosecution.”

Committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong agreed.

“We can write as many laws as we want, and if there’s not effective enforcement we’re going nowhere,” he said.

Meanwhile, the committee deferred plans to create a special parking permit for couriers, that would allow couriers to stop for up to 20 minutes on downtown streets.

Some councillors were concerned the permits would discriminate against cab drivers and charitable organizations such as Meals on Wheels, who would all still be subject to illegal stopping rules.

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