In a bid to relieve the traffic congestion choking Toronto streets, the city is raising fines for four parking offences starting today by as much as $110.
Up until today, drivers who get caught blocking a sidewalk, parking in a high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane, double parking or stopping in a TTC zone would get at a ticket for between $40 and $60.
Starting today however, the fine for those offences goes up to $150.
"By attaching a real price to blocking lanes of traffic with illegal parking, we will reduce congestion," Mayor John Tory said when he announced the changes earlier this week.
Steve Buckley, the city's manager of transportation services, says drivers shouldn't worry about getting slapped with a $150 ticket, so long as they follow a few simple rules.
"If you don't stop on sidewalks, if you don't stop in bus zones, if you don't stop in HOV lanes, your life won't change in anyway shape or form," he said.
Drivers have found a loophole
Buckley said the increased parking fines that go into effect today are aimed at people who appear to have found a loophole in the mayor's six-point plan introduced last year to cut traffic congestion.
The plan included a zero-tolerance towing policy for drivers who block major routes during peak hours. Buckley said some drivers realized they could park on a sidewalks or stop in bus stop loading zones and HOV lanes, and only get hit with a $40 ticket.
"It not necessarily that they can't find street parking, but they knowingly behave this way to avoid higher fines," he said.
According to a city report, the number of towed vehicles in the city doubled from 2014 to 2015, but at the same time the city issued fewer tickets. Buckley says this shows that people are complying.