Zero tolerance rush hour policy introduced to downtown drivers
Vehicles towed from parking lanes part of the 'new reality' for Toronto drivers
Toronto police took to downtown streets on Monday to drive home a new "zero tolerance" policy for illegally parked vehicles blocking rush hour traffic.
The police were out for the morning commute to work, as well as the corresponding drive home. They reported issuing 70 parking tickets during the morning half, along with towing some 29 vehicles. Higher totals were expected during the evening rush hour.
Police insist this is not a one-day blitz but part of a renewed and ongoing focus on clearing illegally parked cars from rush-hour routes.
Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe said from now on, police will not just ticket but also tow every vehicle blocking downtown streets during rush hour. He said this will be equally enforced, whether it's couriers making a delivery or drivers who park and dash to buy a coffee.
"We're towing anyone that is contravening the rush hour route bylaw," he said. "It's aimed at everybody."
Stibbe said the previous administration at city hall was "revenue based" while the new regime under Mayor John Tory wants violating vehicles towed, not just ticketed.
Police were always allowed to tow cars under existing laws, but officers tended to issue the ticket and move on.
"Now it's about writing the tag and taking the car," said Stibbe.
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Tory said earlier this week that an increased number of tow trucks and police officers will be on hand to start the enforcement campaign.
CBC spoke to one man who showed up just as his Audi was about to be towed away on Monday morning. He avoided having his vehicle impounded, but was issued a $50 ticket. He had stopped and parked illegally while dropping off his child at daycare.
Throughout the 2014 municipal campaign, Tory promised to crackdown on illegally parked vehicles, particularly delivery vehicles, if he was elected.
Last month he announced the initiative as part of his six-point plan to ease traffic throughout the city.
Tory said parking enforcement officers will be reassigned from residential areas to major thoroughfares and intersections during peak traffic periods.
"You will be towed. If I have to chip in and drive a tow truck myself, you will be towed," he joked. "The status quo was not satisfactory, to have people repeatedly breaking the law ... blocking traffic for other people, was just not an acceptable way to do business."
Tory has said he also hopes the stepped-up enforcement will help the city collect on the nearly $4-million in unpaid parking tickets given to drivers with out-of-province plates each year.
On Friday, the Ontario Trucking Association released a statement asking Tory to reconsider the immediate enforcement of the policy for delivery trucks, saying there are better ways to reduce traffic downtown.
With reports from the CBC's Michelle Cheung, Jamie Strashin and Marivel Taruc