Front-yard parking pads could be banned across the city in a move aimed at preserving streetscapes and protecting neighbourhoods against storm-water runoff, two Toronto councillors say.
Homeowners hoping to pave a parking spot on their front lawns require a permit from the city. Currently, there's a moratorium on installing the pads in the old city of Toronto and few applications get approval. That moratorium could expand to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke in the near future.
Some homeowners have managed to get city permits, but say the process was both difficult and expensive.
"The current bylaw is a joke," Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong told CBC News.
"We want a moratorium on people plowing under their front yards and putting parking in."
Coun. Shelley Carroll, who also supports the ban, said paving over front lawns damages the community atmosphere of neighbourhoods and turns streets into a "sea of cars."
"There should be a space in a suburban environment for communing with your neighbours."
Carroll said paved front lawns also make storms more dangerous. She said the city is considering a new storm water runoff charge that's based on the percentage of paved surfaces people have on their lots.
Should property owners get a say?
But for Mark Maclean, one of the few to win approval to install a parking pad, installing the structure was a safety decision. Now, he explains, his kids won't have to walk onto the street to get into the car.
"There is no number we can attach to the fact our kids can get out of the front door and not have to be unsafe," Maclean said, referring to the $10,000 landscaping bill that came with the parking area.
Maclean said it took him two years of negotiating with the city before he won approval for a parking pad outside his midtown home.
He said he thinks the city should be flexible in dealing with parking pads in the future.
In some areas, he said, the moratorium is a viable option, but at the same time he believes homeowners should be able to lobby for a parking spot.
"I think every homeowner on their private property should have an opportunity to make their case," he said.
A citywide ban on new parking pads would require the approval of the entire city council.