On behalf of municipal taxpayers everywhere, we would like to recognize fire hydrants for their tireless work making our tax burden lighter. These solid public servants contribute millions of dollars to city coffers – an average of $4-million per year in Toronto alone – according to a new analysis of parking-ticket data from Ottawa and Toronto by the Canadian Press. One Toronto fire hydrant, at 393 University Ave., has produced nearly $300,000 in parking-ticket revenue in six years all by itself, at zero cost – a stunning display of respect for the taxpayer. It makes us wonder why it isn’t running for mayor.
This is the candidate that would have it all. A proven track record of generating revenue without raising taxes; an unassailable commitment to the well-being of others; and a stolid, reliable character that has prevented it from ever missing a day’s work or sticking the beleaguered public with the bill for a late-night dinner. Plus it’s tough on crime, loves dogs and doesn’t interrupt you when you’re making a good point. Someone in the backrooms of Toronto politics really ought to give that heroic fireplug a good deodorizing, slap a tie around its thick neck and insert it into the municipal election campaign.
The fire hydrant also has some much-watched digital pixels in its past. Only in its case, the photographic evidence is a point of pride. The date is May, 2013. Google Streetview shows a white Toyota and a red Fiat illegally parked in front of the fire hydrant. On their windshields, both miscreant vehicles bear their marks of shame: parking tickets. The law officer who dealt them is seen walking away. The hydrant stands by, silent and unmoved, as justice is done in the big city.
By now you are probably asking yourself, “Where does this wonderful fire hydrant stand on mass transit?” It doesn’t. It stands on the sidewalk – three metres back from the curb, partially concealed by a concrete flower box. It waits and watches. (Mostly it waits.) Only scofflaws risk its wrath. Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from it. Unless, of course, they are texting while walking and don’t expect a fire hydrant implausibly planted smack in the middle of a boulevard sidewalk. Then they get hurt. These things happen. You move on. If you don’t like the fire hydrant, don’t vote for it.
But if you care about respect for the law and keeping taxes low, look no further than the taciturn fire hydrant. It has the answers.