Car2go 'optimistic' Toronto city council will OK parking pilot

More of Car2go’s distinctive blue-and-white Smart cars parked in your neighbourhood, if city council approves a new pilot project this week.

Some councillors concerned staff won't be able to handle problem parking

Car2go customers have already been parking on residential streets, relying on the company to clear the vehicles before incurring tickets. Now, the city may approve a pilot project that would allow the company, and similar ones, to buy parking permits. (John Rieti/CBC)

You might be seeing more of Car2go's distinctive blue-and-white Smart cars parked in your neighbourhood, if city council approves a new pilot project this week.

City transportation staff are recommending a one-year pilot, set to begin in April, that would sell up to 2,000 residential parking permits to companies that run so-called "free floating" car rentals — popular among those who only need a vehicle once in a while.

The revised proposal won't allow permits in areas where there's already a wait list for residential parking, but will exempt the shared vehicles from three-hour parking limits.

Proponents on council say the plan could mean more people can go car-free, easing congestion issues.

"We need to have these options readily available," Coun. Ana Bailao told CBC Toronto.

Bailao says the shared vehicles offer convenience Torontonians want, and that they they're part of an "ecosystem" that also involves transit, bike lanes and private vehicles. Getting the mix right, she says, is "the only way we're going really tackle the issue around transportation and traffic in this city."

Councillor attacks company for breaking parking rules

However, critics have raised concerns about how the pilot will fare in areas where it's already difficult to find an on-street parking spot. Coun. Gord Perks also criticized Car2go for what he calls "scofflaw" behaviour in the past. 

"Car2go has happily, willfully, very publicly, been breaking our parking laws," he said.

Perks says he still has questions about how city staff will make sure the floating cars are parking where they should. 

Car2go has encouraged drivers to park in various neighbourhoods. Its drivers then move the vehicles before they're ticketed, although the company admits it has been hit with many tickets. 

In a news release, Car2go says it's "optimistic" the pilot will get the green light.

"In the city's own words, Toronto is well-suited for carsharing, given its high population density in the downtown core. Car2go has invested years working with key stakeholders including transportation services, the mayor's office, and city councillors to effectively address any concerns they may have," said Paul DeLong, the CEO of Car2go North America.

If council approves, the permits will be sold for about $1,500 each. Companies will be able to buy up to 500 each.

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.