Toronto's residential side-streets are about to become the city's new Green P lots.
Drivers can now purchase 24- and-48-hour temporary on-street parking permits in residential neighbourhoods online for the first time.
Previously, the only option available for someone who parked temporarily on a residential street outside of the allotted hours was a one-week parking permit for $20 — which is still available — or the other less popular option: a $30 parking ticket.
"The fact is, in the areas where there is permit parking, which is generally downtown, the ticketing is unbelievable," said Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto Danforth). "Downtown is a cash cow for tickets for the City of Toronto. If this helps people pay $8 instead of $30 or $40, I think that's a good thing."
Fletcher initiated the permit changes after residents complained about the lack of flexibility. The permits can be purchased with a credit card online at a cost of $8 for 24 hours, $12 for 48 hours or $20 for a seven-day permit, plus tax.
"We just heard a lot of people coming in where their mother was coming to help with the baby or someone was coming to town for the weekend or someone just wanted to stay the night and it really becomes very frustrating and upsetting," says Fletcher. It's not an issue for suburban neighbourhoods where most homes have driveways.
The temporary permits aren't necessarily just for overnight parking. Users can choose a start time – say 7 a.m. – and the permit is good for 24 hours from that time. Technically, a user could buy a two-day permit for $12 and park on a side street for $6 each day.
And in some downtown areas, that translates into cheap daytime parking.
But the city will be on the look-out for people who are using the permits to park for work, says Angie Antoniou, the acting director of transportation for the Toronto and East York district.
"If it's within a commercial area, where someone may try to get these permits, other than visiting a particular address, that is an abuse of the system and we do monitor them," says Antoniou.
Permit applicants have to enter their name, the address they're visiting and the licence plate of their car. They also need to be able to print the permit, which must be displayed on the car's dashboard.
The temporary permits may not be available on every street. If most of the on-street parking has already been allotted to residents, then the site will tell the applicant that the permits are not available.