Toronto

Blocked into her East York driveway dozens of times, woman says she's tired of city inaction

An East York woman says her driveway is often blocked in by parked cars because of a misleading no parking sign — which the city has been slow to fix.

Local councillor agrees no parking sign could be misleading

After years of complaints and no solution, Suzanne Creighton says she's fed up with inaction by the city. (Mike Smee/CBC)

An East York woman says her driveway is often blocked in by parked cars because of a misleading no parking sign — which the city has been slow to fix.

Suzanne Creighton, who lives on a residential street near Broadview and Mortimer avenues, says about once a month for the past couple of years she's come out to her parking pad only to find her car blocked in.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Creighton, who has health problems and worries about getting in and out of her driveway if there's an emergency.

"The city ... has chosen not to do the right thing and just fix this." 

The problem, she says, is that the no parking sign, which is on a utility pole in front of her home on Westwood Avenue, suggests it's legal for holders of street permits to park in front of her parking pad.

An illegally parked car blocking Creighton's driveway. This photo was taken about two weeks ago. (Suzanne Creighton)

Her local councillor, Paula Fletcher, recently visited the street and told CBC Toronto she'll get to the bottom of the problem.

"The sign says you can park basically in front of her driveway ... so people are making mistakes," she said.

"I think it's quite confusing. So it's just one of those things that you have to come out, see for yourself and be able to go back and say, 'Let's fix it.'" 

Creighton says she wants a "No Parking Any Time" sign installed by the city, and she's made numerous calls to 311 and city staff over the years.

Coun. Paula Fletcher, right, and Suzanne Creighton discussing the parking issues on Westwood Avenue. (Mike Smee/CBC)

"They're saying they won't do it or they can't do it, and they have simply chosen not to deal with it," she said.

The issue appears to have started with her parking pad, which she installed about a decade ago. Before that, curb parking in front of her home was legal. After the city-registered pad went in, though, parking in front of it should have been banned by the city —but wasn't.

About five years ago she complained to the city, which installed a no parking sign, but placed it just to the east of her driveway, instead of in front of it.

When she complained about that sign, the city installed another one, just last month, that made it clear parking was illegal in front of Creighton's home — except for people with street parking permits.

Suzanne Creighton, beside her parking pad, with the parking signs on the utility pole in front of her home. The sign on the left tells drivers with street parking permits it's okay to park in front of her driveway. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

"[It's] the City of Toronto's fault; they don't have adequate signs," she said. "They've also refused to remedy the situation when I pointed it out to them over two years ago." 

In an email to Creighton, a staffer in Fletcher's office told her the city needs to have a bylaw in place that bans parking in front of her new driveway before proper signs can be installed, but councillors have not done so yet.

Fletcher says the pandemic is partially to blame.

"I think everybody's been very consumed with COVID and doing other things," she said. "City staff, first of all, weren't allowed to go out to look at things. And secondly, many of them were very busy doing jobs they would not normally ever do."

Drivers should use common sense

Creighton says the problem has become noticeably worse in the last couple of years. She says the increased popularity of nearby venues like the Brickworks, and events like Taste of the Danforth are to blame for increased congestion in her neighbourhood.

But both Fletcher and Creighton say drivers should use more common sense when it comes to parking on Westwood.

"When's the last time you just pulled up and parked in front of somebody's driveway and thought that was okay?" Fletcher said. "It's not okay." 

Fletcher told CBC Toronto she's going to have city staff visit the street with her, look at the problem signs, and come up with a fix.

But Creighton says she's fed up with inaction by city staff.

She maintains that she's called 311 numerous times, only to be told to call police herself and get the offending car towed — which she has done.

'A very precarious position'

But the fallout from that strategy can be frightening, she says.

"Once they do remove the vehicle, it puts me in a very precarious position with an angry car owner who no longer has their vehicle," she said. "They come to my door quite often, which is quite frightening."

Creighton's ongoing health issues have her living in fear that she'll need to rush to a clinic or hospital only to find her car blocked in.

"It's terrifying," she said.

"Sometimes, I worry that I just won't actually be able to get out of my driveway. And then I have to figure out, you know, what's an alternative measure, and I don't think that that's reasonable."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Smee

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Michael Smee has worked in print, radio, TV and online journalism for many years. You can reach him at michael.smee@cbc.ca

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