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Could a parking fine hike be on the way for Toronto? Councillors will consider next week

Fines for over 120 types of parking violations could be going up across the city, with many potentially doubling as Toronto plays catch up with other communities with higher rates. 

City staff recommend hiking fines for the parking violations because many haven’t been updated in years, says a report headed to the city’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee next week. This comes at a time when staff say parking violations have been trending up after the pandemic. 

If council adopts the increases, they would go into effect Aug. 1.

Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, who chairs the committee, said hiking fines is one way to ensure people are following the rules of the road.

“We found that in many, many cases, people were just taking the risk in parking illegally because the fines simply weren’t high enough,” she said. “Last year on city property, we raised our fines from $30 to $75. We think that’s having an impact.” 

Many of the fines would double, jumping to $75 from the previous $30. That includes fines for not paying a parking fee at a pay and display machine, as well as fines for parking on a street without a valid permit. 

A fine for parking within three metres of a fire hydrant would also increase to $125 from $100. The ticket for parking a vehicle in a bike lane would jump to $200 from $150. 

As part of their work, city staff compared Toronto’s fine structure to other Canadian cities. The report says that in many instances, Toronto tickets range from $15 to $60 and have not been changed since they were enacted or been adjusted for inflation, and “were generally lower on average” than other communities.

“The increased penalty amounts should reduce the number of illegal parking infractions and promote compliance,” city staff say in the report.

The city estimates that the new fines will generate around $40 million a year in additional revenue. But McKelvie said this is about ensuring people follow the rules, not about making money for the city.

“This is just another tool in the toolbox to combat congestion,” she said. “I would be happy if we gave no parking tickets at all in the city of Toronto because people were following the rules and not parking where they weren’t supposed to.”

The report also notes the delay in implementing the new fines is needed to give Toronto police time to order new manual parking ticket stock at a cost of $150,000. 

“The current stock that will be outdated with the old penalty amounts will not be usable by Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, Police Officers and Parking Enforcement Officers when their electronic system is down,” staff say. 

City staff also want councillors to approve a list of fines for people who park in electric vehicle charging spaces and aren’t driving an EV or aren’t charging their car in off-street parking. At the moment, there are no fines to cover those circumstances.

McKelvie said if the city wants to encourage EV use, it has to ensure people can access charging stations. And that means drivers blocking those spaces will faces fines, she said. 

City staff say the fine for that offence should be $75, matching the ticket for illegally parking in an on-street EV charging space.

The city issued more than 2.22 million parking violations notices in 2019 and those numbers dropped significantly to around 1.4 million during the pandemic, when people were off the roads and working from home.

But tickets have started to creep back up over the past two years, with 1.8 million notices being issued in 2022 and 2.25 million in 2023.

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