Toronto delivery driver calls for new parking rules after spending $500 on tickets last year

TORONTO — About 500 people have signed a petition asking for either grace periods or parking permits for couriers who need to leave their vehicles on Toronto’s streets in order to make deliveries.

The petition was created by Taryn Ellis, a food delivery driver of over two years. She told CTV News Toronto that it was the first job she ever loved doing, but she was being flooded with parking tickets, which meant there were days that she essentially worked for free.

“I’ll tell you the longest it’s ever taken me to do a delivery has five minutes…Getting stuff out of my car and getting it into the persons condo building, apartment building—the longest it’s ever taken me is five minutes. But sometimes I can be gone two minutes and I already have a parking ticket on my car,” she said.

“I was talking to other people I work and talking to other couriers of other companies. And I realized it was a really big problem.”

Currently, Toronto’s bylaws allow delivery and courier vehicles to park in certain designated zones for a specific time period, but not every street or area has designated zones. The city is also currently operating a courier delivery zone pilot project on select streets in the downtown core, which allows delivery drivers to park in an area for a specific time period, for example between 15 to 30 minutes.

Otherwise, couriers and delivery drivers are subject to the same rules as any other resident in Toronto.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto on Thursday, a spokesperson outlined these bylaws and added, “The City of Toronto is focused on both near-term programs and long-term strategies to address goods movement and curbside management, including the growing demand for deliveries and pickups throughout the city.”

Ellis said that on average she gets about one parking ticket a month. In 2020, that number decreased slightly due to a lack of parking enforcement at the height of the first wave of the pandemic—but she still ended up paying about $500 in parking tickets in a four-month time period.

“I understand the parking enforcement, I understand that they’re doing their job, but I just always felt like that they need to give couriers a little bit more of a break,” she said, adding that a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in her working 12-hour days delivering essential goods to residents.

The petition makes reference to Ottawa’s “business identity card permit” program. For an annual fee of $130, anyone who delivers goods and packages are given permits that allow them to temporarily park on streets in “loading” or “no parking” zones for a period of up to 15 minutes.

Ellis said she has spoken with her coworkers and everyone said they would be willing to pay a similar fee if it meant not having to deal with the headaches of parking tickets.

As for any kind of grace period for delivery drivers or couriers, the city has said that any request regarding suspension of enforcement would have to go through the police.

In the meantime, Ellis said she will continue to leave a sign on her dashboard that indicates she works for a delivery company and will be back in five minutes—in hopes that a parking enforcement officer may let her go without a ticket.

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