Above, an actual No Parking sign (one of hundreds)
posted in Toronto's Downtown Waterfront neighborhood.
There is a serious illegal parking issue on steets adjacent to
Toronto's Downtown Waterfront. Queens Quay West is the only local road
that runs along the downtown waterfront. Consequently, the traffic is
very heavy. Queens Quay West and adjacents streets are clearly posted
with No Parking, No Standing, and in some cases, No Stopping signs.
Despite the hundreds of well positioned NO PARKING, NO STANDING, NO STOPPING signs in the waterfront neighborhood - buses, cars, trucks, and taxis are often parked illegally - sometimes for 1, 2, 3 hours or more, at a time. It's not too unusual to see 100's of illegally parked buses on these streets at one time - in many cases with motors idling (again illegally). Just as amazing, on many Friday and Saturday evenings, several hundred illegal parked cars - parked right in front of NO PARKING signs. Are these buses, trucks, taxis and weekender cars always given parking infraction tickets, or tickets for illegally idling or ever towed? The simple answer is ..... no ... or at best..... seldom! Aside from destroying the Public Realm and the Livablity and Usability of the neighbourhood - this non ticketing policy is costing Toronto taxpayers $50,000,000 in lost parking infraction ticket revenues (over a "life cycle cost" period)!
But more important - what makes many of these bus, trucking, taxi, waterfront business company executives think that they can park with impunity in these No Parking zones? The answer is simple - it's all about "Rule Bending". The self- appointed, self-centered elites (the rich and rich wannabes) in Toronto understand the unwritten rule - that when it comes to their needs - all/any rule can be forgotten, stretched or temporarily dismissed. For example, what's the best way to avoid ticketing all these illegally parked buses and trucks? Simply forget to have a parking enforcement officer specifically assigned to the Toronto's Downtown Waterfront neighborhood - and tour Queens Quay West (and other neighborhood streets) 2 to 3 times per 8 hour shift - like other neighborhoods in Toronto. In fact, the standard practise is to inspect streets even more often - if vehicles are known to be illegally parked on a regular basis. But even if the Waterfront Neighborhood was treated in a normal fashion - Queens Quay West would have a parking infraction officer drive by a minimum of 6 to 9 times in a 24 hour time period.
What's even stranger - is that if someone illegally parks a car at a
condo - a parking enforcement officer is there in 5 minutes - complete
with tow truck! When a illegal bus parking complaint is phoned into the
Toronto Police - it can take at least 3 hours or more for a parking
enforcement officer to show up! Are the illegally parked buses
ticketed? No! Even though the buses ARE illegally parked when the
parking enforcement officer arrives - the enforcement officer will
simply tell the bus driver to move the bus and no ticket is given. On
top of this, parking enforcement officers don't know the Toronto
parking bylawsregarding buses - and often start quote Provincial
regulations that don't apply to cities!
We often hear that the downtown waterfront is dying because of the
Gardiner expressway. Although the expressway may be a factor (unlikely)
- there are other more pertinent reasons for the lack of usage on
Toronto's downtown waterfront.
We humans are very visual - that is, we rely on our sight to protect ourselves from harm. Visually - from 2 or 3 blocks north of Front St. right down to the waterfront proper - is likely the world biggest transportation storage depot for illegally parked buses, trucks and other vehicles. Depending on the time of day or night and depending on which day of the week - visually this zone is a "No Man's (No Woman's, No Child's) Land" - with parked buses, trucks, and other vehicles (all not unloading or loading or involved in the film business). This zone visually says "STAY AWAY"!
Aside from creating the City of Toronto's largest non-zoned illegal
parking lot - this Transportation Storage Depot creates a variety of
negative traffic outcomes. Namely, destroys the flow of traffic along
Queens Quay West. Makes it dangerous for people leaving or entering
legitimate parking facilities. And last but not least - impedes
pedestrian traffic - as empty buses are often parked in cross walks.
More often than not, these illegally parked empty buses makes it
difficult to see cars entering car parking lots - with buses parked
right up to the entrance ramp of official car parking lots!!
There is a long list of urban myths about why its necessary to illegally park empty tour buses, trucks and other vehicles in waterfront neighbourhood:
Urban Myth Number One
There are no parking lots for buses - or they exist; but are full of cars. Not the case - the manager at the official bus lot on Bremner says that only 3 buses park per week - along with a few trucks and other vehicles - leaving a near empty lot than can hold 50 to 75 buses!! Then there's Cherry St - it has been set up for bus parking as well.
Urban Myth Number Two
If chartered buses are forced to pay for bus parking - they won't come back to Toronto. Nonsense! - legitimate bus companies give their drivers money to pay for parking. Why? Because everywhere in Canada and the USA - bus drivers are expected to park there buses in bus parking lots! And the fee is nearly the same in both countries. So either bus drivers are pocketing the bus parking fees or the bus company execs are being unethical (or are being told that they don't need to worry about parking illegally?)!
Urban Myth Number Three
If buses are told to move from an illegal parking spot - the driver will simply drive to another No Parking zoned street - and park there. As well - buses can't be towed - because a giant tow truck is needed. Nonsense again. Toronto simply has to do what it's sister city does. Amsterdam locks a massive tire/wheel clamp on one of the tires/wheels of an illegally parked vehicle. In order to have the clamp removed - the bus driver would have to go to the Parking Enforcement Office - pay the parking ticket AND the $135 clamp removal fee! It will not take long before the Broken Glass Syndrome is reversed!
Urban Myth Number Four
The economy of Toronto will suffer if the illegal bus parking is stopped in the waterfront neighborhood. Nonsense again. A sustainable economy for Toronto can only happen - only - if the Transportation Storage Depot in the Waterfront Neighborhood is stopped - if it ends! At the same time the City of Toronto needs to stop Privatizing it's Public Realm!
The Creative Class makes or breaks the sustainable economy of any city. The Creative Class flourishes in The Public Realm. The Creative Class doesn't hang out in Transportation Storage Depots/Bus Stations or massive beer selling venues (Harbourfront Centre). Nor does the Creative Class hang out in bars, restaurants, and night clubs who have dozens of TVs on - but none of the staff knows what NBA refers to!! What! .... bars spitting distance from the Toronto Raptors home court! They also don't know that a wide screen TV - needs a wide screen program. Instead the TVs show Toronto Raptors basketball players who are all 5 foot tall and five feet wide - with the basketball looking like a football. Should these bush league businesses be supported in any fashion?
It takes an awful big effort to produce the level of illegal parked buses down here in my waterfront neighborhood. Is the official Toronto Tourist Board providing cash incentives or other incentives to the charter bus drivers or to the bus company execs? Is the 'Board" telling the charter bus drivers to park in the bus parking lots or anywhere they want to - or just no information?