Mayor John Tory launched his election-promise crackdown on congestion Monday, warning Toronto drivers they will face stiff fines if they block traffic during rush hours.
As of 9:30 a.m., a total of 28 vehicles in the downtown core had been impounded, said Const. Clint Stibbe of Toronto police traffic services.
Towing costs range from $200 to $250 for small vehicles, such as a car. Costs for larger vehicles, such as delivery trucks, are “substantially more expensive,” Stibbe said.
There will be eight police officers and bylaw enforcement officers on city streets, “and that’s a lot more than we’ve had,” Tory said during a pre-dawn interview on AM 640.
“I hope people got the message that you can’t go on blocking lanes of traffics on the busy streets during rush hour.”
Tory says his office has had “great” meetings with representatives from Canada Post, for example, who have agreed to change the times they collect mail at some mailboxes “to take some of that traffic off the street.”
The city, working with courier companies, has created 17 new parking zones – for a total of 30 – to allow drivers to park around the corner instead of blocking major streets.
“Businesses have their business to do, I understand that, but when you’re blocking a lane of traffic you’re affecting other businesses and other people just trying to get around,” Tory said. “We can’t go on that way.”
Existing no parking and no stopping signs have become “a joke” and enforcement lax, “so we’re really stepping up the pace of enforcing the law.”
Minutes after Stibbe headed out with a Star reporter to patrol Queen Street downtown, he spotted a truck driver idling in a no-stopping area.
The driver told Stibbe he was aware of the crackdown and said he was just checking signs. Stibbe let him off without a ticket, saying he had a valid explanation.
Five minutes later, Stibbe ticketed a delivery vehicle stopped in a no-stopping area and called for a tow truck.
When the driver came out, he said he’d just been inside for “two minutes.” Stibbe cancelled the tow but handed the driver a $150 ticket.
Stibbe ticketed a third vehicle just 10 minutes before the end of the Queen Street rush hour parking ban at 10 a.m.
The driver returned to his vehicle, saw the ticket and then went back into a building with a parcel. He came out before the tow truck arrived.
“It’s a game of Russian Roulette and at some point, the individual’s going to lose,” Stibbe said.
Individual motorists caught blocking lanes will be fined $500 and commercial drivers $1,000, the mayor said.
Tory was all over the airwaves Monday morning promoting Day One of his congestion fighting blitz.
He was asked on 640 if he would extend construction hours if it is cost prohibitive.
“We’re looking at it from a cost-benefit analysis,” he said. The increase to extend the hours on some projects must be reasonable, say 15 per cent not 50 per cent, because congestion is costing the economy $6 billion a year.
“We will apply common sense but we will speed up projects, do more night construction, more weekend construction wherever it makes sense and pay for it to get this stuff done faster.”