BUSINESS

Could Rover, The 'AirBnB Of Parking,' Clash With Toronto Bylaws?

07/22/2015 09:45 EDT | Updated 07/22/2016 05:59 EDT
RoverParking.com
Created by a Toronto developer to match drivers with unused parking spaces to rent on private property, the Rover parking app has been dubbed "the Air BnB of parking." It's also raised the attention of the city's bylaw officials.

The app allows property owners to post available parking spaces for rent by the hour. Drivers can then search, book and pay for the spaces using their phones. For property owners, the app is an easy way to turn an unused driveway spot into a quick bit of cash. For drivers, it offers another parking option in car-clogged streets and neighbourhoods. 

"I challenge anyone in Toronto to look around and see how much underutilized space there is out there," said co-founder Tim Wootton in an interview Wednesday on CBC Toronto's Metro Morning show. "There are parking spots absolutely everywhere."

The price for parking is set by the user but capped at $2 an hour to ensure spaces stay competitive with traditional parking spots. 

Wootton developed Rover while working at Ryerson University's Digital Media Zone. 

The app works much like the taxi-sharing service Uber and like Uber, it's raised the attention of city bylaw officials. 

Klaus Lehmann, who works in the city's bylaw office, has said in media interviews that using Rover to rent out multiple spaces could be considered a commercial parking lot. A complaint to the city could trigger a $5,000 fine. 

Wootton said he checked over the bylaws while developing Rover and believes they're in place to prevent drivers from parking on lawns, not on stopping a homeowner from making a little extra money renting a driveway spot for a few hours.

"I don't believe we're turning [parking spaces] into a commercial lot," he said. "It's just one driveway, it's not 10 different spots."

Earlier this year, the city began allowing drivers to pay for parking at Green P lots using their phone. At the time, Mayor John Tory said Toronto needs to embrace changes an innovations to established industries. "Our role isn't to fight the future," Tory said about the Green P app. "It's to embrace the future."

"If we want to be a world-class city, we need to continue to be innovate," said Wootton. "Companies need to innovate or they won't survive."