Statistics reveal streets around hospitals among the most heavily ticketed areas in the city
Feb 28, 2009 04:30 AM - Toronto Star
The streets and avenues around Toronto hospitals are the most heavily ticketed areas in the city.
Data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the city shows the address of every parking ticket issued last year.
Parking tickets are big business for Toronto. In 2007, the city collected $80 million in fees and issued 2.8 million tickets. In 2008, about 3 million tickets were tucked beneath windshield wipers.
The downtown area was heavily ticketed, with clusters near University Ave. hospitals and shopping districts. Outside the city's core, hospitals such as Sunnybrook, Toronto Western, Toronto East General and St. Joseph's recorded large numbers of parking violators.
Sunnybrook topped the list with 8,875 tickets issued – an average of one per hour for the year.
Even so, Solomon Ayeneababa, manager of parking and transportation services at the hospital, doesn't think his staff tickets heavily. But he says there are times when they "have to," especially when cars are parked in areas requiring permits, blocking fire routes, impeding TTC routes and obstructing major roads, such as those used by ambulances. His staff are licensed by the city to write tickets.
But Ayeneababa said they are understanding and will show leeway, for instance, to motorists whose time on the meter has expired.
"If they're late in the clinic or had some other kind of issue, we'll listen to their case and we'll cancel the ticket," he said. "Some people go in and end up staying more than they expected."
Second was Etobicoke's Sherway Gardens mall, which is next to Trillium Health Centre-West Toronto. Last year 7,095 tickets were issued there, nearly 20 a day.
On Murray St., near Mount Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children and Women's College Hospital, 3,041 tickets were issued.
More than 4,400 tickets were issued to cars on Edward St., near the Atrium on Bay and the Toronto Eaton Centre and within walking distance of St. Michael's Hospital and the University Ave. hospitals.
"The focus of our parking efforts is on public safety and the smooth and safe movement of traffic," said police spokesperson Mark Pugash. "That is particularly the case in the downtown core."
Neither Pugash nor the parking enforcement unit would comment on the data.
"We don't do target enforcement at all," said an official with Toronto Police Parking Enforcement. "We just ensure the free flow of traffic."
A constant flow of traffic is what attracts parking enforcement officers to the area, according to the founder of a web service that arranges court dates for people who want to fight their tickets.
"They probably say they are not targeting, but they definitely do," said Greg Kasparian, founder of Parkingtickets.to. "It's so much more effective to stay around there than go to a residential street.
"There are cars constantly rolling out of there, and you are way more likely to find an expired receipt."
Kasparian said people visiting a hospital shouldn't have to worry about feeding the meter. He'd like to see temporary parking permits.
St. Joseph's hospital is opening a new parking garage this spring to deal with the challenge of more than 250,000 patient visits a year, spokesperson Michelle Tadique said in an email.
Other ticket-heavy areas were near Seneca College's Newnham Campus, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and the Toronto Eaton Centre. The Distillery District also seemed to get a lot of attention, as did the area near the Royal Ontario Museum, the Manulife Centre and Yorkville.
If you try to contest your parking ticket, getting your day in court might be difficult.
The Star's Jack Lakey, probing figures provided by Toronto's court services last year, found that since the beginning of 2006, about 250,000 requests had been received from drivers to contest a $30 parking ticket. But trial dates were issued for only about 4,300.
At the time the story was published last June, drivers had requested more than 37,000 trials for $30 parking tickets in 2008 – but no court dates had been issued.
The reason: Courts were backlogged and parking tickets were low priority, so many requests filed for court dates didn't go through.
The address data on parking tickets was obtained by Patrick Cain, an editor for thestar.com and Map of the Week blogger.
His interactive map showing all addresses in the city where more than 1,000 parking tickets were issued last year can be found at thestar.blogs.com/maps.