It’s been a problem for a while, and I’ve written about it before. People in Toronto stop on the side of the road, blocking traffic during rush hour(s) and conducting their own business while forcing others to wait in line behind them. I’ve seen this myself: I don’t drive downtown precisely for this reason (it takes longer to drive through rush-hour traffic than public transportation… not to mention the waste of gas while idling). So I often see people parked on the side of the road, running in to do… something… and making others late. We often joke that they’re just getting coffee: but it’s not just a joke. I’ve seen it. People running out of a Tim Horton’s and jumping into a car that has stood blocking traffic for ten minutes. It illustrates exactly the kind of uncaring attitude that is not really that common in the city…most of us are very compassionate toward out neighbours. It’s actually very much a minority of individuals who do this: but it sticks out when it is displayed.
So I was very happy to hear that the public works department has recommended raising the fines. “Toronto councillors on the public works committee have recommended that the fines be tripled for motorists who park illegally during rush hours… fines that range from between $40 and $60 raised to $150. That would be the highest rush-hour fine in the country” (CBC, Jan 4 2012). Considering that Toronto is the largest, most congested city in the country… and we have the worst commute (The Star, Aug 25 2010)… I think this is most appropriate.
Of course there are issues. Two of the councillors (John Parker and David Shiner) voted against the proposal, saying that it wouldn’t actually do anything: raising the fines is useless without enforcement (Globe & Mail, Jan 4 2012). I would counter that by saying that with the lower fines, people care less about the cost (it’s an “inconvenience”) while the higher fines “hurt”. Some fines are handed out. It may not be the full solution, but it’s a start. So I’m really not sure what their complaint is about the idea… unless, of course, they (or their friends) enjoy stopping off on the way to work and getting a coffee.
Now this still has to go before the full City Council and the Mayor before it goes into effect. Personally, I will not be surprised if Doug Ford tries to weasel out of the recommendation, in spite of it’s potential to raise money for the cash-strapped city. Some of his closest allies on the Council were the ones to oppose the move. I do have to give him his due, though, in this regard: he did recently make a quite public stand against the idea of councillors receiving free public parking passes. As it says in the article, he probably saved the taxpayers “dozens of dollars” (Toronto Life, Jan 5 2012). I wonder if that can go to help our struggling libraries?