Toronto: Meter Parking Comes With An Additional 10 Minute Grace Period

Update: see previous posts – July 11, 2012 Toronto to Increase On-Street Time-Restricted Parking “Grace Period” to 10 Minutes, February 6, 2012 Toronto Increases Rush Hour Parking Fines from $60 to $150 and Blocking Bike Lanes Anytime is Worth a $150 Ticket, April 13, 2011 Parking Tickets (Toronto) Cancelled Electronically, via Facsimile or Email, July 1, 2010 Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines, May 20, 2010 Parking Ticket Exemptions (25 Page Document – Toronto)

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City council has agreed with ombudsman Fiona Crean that Toronto needs to make it easier for residents to fight unfair parking tickets. KATIE DAUBS/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

City council has vowed to do a better job of letting people know they can fight a parking ticket if it was issued shortly after the meter expired.

While council decided in July that people should not have to pay a ticket issued within 10 minutes after the meter expires, the new policy is not widely advertised, said Councillor Josh Matlow.

Council voted to ensure the 10-minute grace period and other elements of the city’s Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines are highlighted on the city’s website.

The city issued 2.8 million tickets last year worth $80 million, netting the city $21 million after expenses. About 138,000 tickets were cancelled.

Parking Enforcement Officers can be overzealous downtown and will issue as many parking tickets as they are capable of placing on every vehicle. Now, parking enforcement officers will be required to wait for a maximum of ten (10) minutes after the parking tag has expired. In 2011, Parking Enforcement Officers issued 2,556,442 tickets, as opposed to police, who only issued 8,874. In 2011 Toronto issued 2,833,787 parking tickets raising approximately $80,000,000.00 in revenue.

Matlow said the current situation is bad for business, with retailers on commercial strips saying people are reluctant to shop there for fear of getting a $30 ticket.

“I’ve heard from business owners that often people don’t want to come to some of our main streets because they’re fearful that if they’re in line a little too long at a shop, it’s going to cost them $30. It’s not worth the risk to some people.”

It would help if people knew they could apply to cancel a tag issued within 10 minutes of meter expiry, Matlow said.

Even better, he said, would be if police who issue tickets didn’t tag a car until 10 minutes after expiry. Currently, police practice is to observe a five-minute grace period, council was told.

“I hope in future that the police will work with us on this and extend it to 10 minutes,” Matlow said.

Council was discussing a report on parking tickets from city ombudsman Fiona Crean, who urged council to better inform citizens about the city’s policies for cancelling tickets.

For example, the cancellation guidelines should be available at the city’s four parking ticket offices, and highlighted on the city’s website.

Council adopted her recommendations as well as Matlow’s motion to highlight the grace period.

Matlow said it was “incredibly easy” to pay a parking ticket but “incredibly difficult” to fight one.

“It’s important that residents know we’re not just going to have a cash grab when it comes to parking violations,” he said.

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