City should have a 'bigger heart' and give drivers a New Year's Eve parking amnesty, councillor says

Paula Fletcher says as many as 600 motorists who left their cars on side streets overnight on New Year's Even rather than attempt to drive home, got parking tickets. She wants the city to give drivers a parking amnesty to encourage them not to drink and drive.

'We shouldn't penalize you for a good decision' Coun. Paula Fletcher says

Coun. Paula Fletcher maintains police carried out a parking ticket blitz on downtown side streets on New Year's Eve, but the parking enforcement unit says it didn't happen. (Lisa Xing/CBC News)

It was  a not-so-happy start to the new year for hundreds of drivers downtown earlier this month, according to Paula Fletcher.

The city councillor for Ward 14, Toronto-Danforth says as many as 600 motorists who left their cars on side streets overnight, rather than attempt to drive home, got parking tickets.

She'd like to see a parking amnesty on New Year's Eve in the future, and she put forward a motion Thursday asking council to endorse the idea.

"For just one night of the year. on New Year's Eve, let's have a bigger heart," she said.

Fletcher says if the city wants to encourage people to leave their cars behind after partying, a New Year's parking amnesty would be appropriate.

"While Torontonians were ringing in the New Year there was a parking enforcement blitz in permit parking areas starting at midnight," she wrote in her motion, titled "A New Year's Parking Resolution." 

"This runs counter to both the spirit of the evening and road safety strategies for this yearly occasion."

The problem was that the ticketed drivers had left their cars on streets that require a permit for overnight parking, according to Brian Moniz, a parking enforcement supervisor with the Toronto Police Service.

Fletcher hopes police will agree to not ticket permitted side street parking spots on New Year's Eve in the future. (Lisa Xing/CBC News)

"We have residents that live on those streets that pay for a permit and they expect those spots to be clear," he said.

Moniz also challenges the numbers presented in Fletcher's report to council, saying only about 270 tickets were issued that night.

And he points out that motorists who plan on partying on New Year's Eve "have the option of purchasing a temporary street permit ... 24-hours-a-day on the city's website."

In the end, councillors voted to bump Fletcher's motion to the general government and licensing committee for further study.


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