An analysis of Toronto’s parking-ticket data found the city has collected more than $24-million since 2008 by fining people who parked too close to hydrants.
And as it turns out, some hydrants seem to be more tempting – and more costly – than others.
In Toronto, one hydrant stands above the rest. People are fined so often for parking in front of it that on Google’s Street View, a white Toyota can be seen with a yellow slip under its wiper blade as a parking-enforcement officer walks away.
Since 2008, cars that parked too close to the hydrant at 393 University Ave. have been ticketed 2,962 times. Those fines add up to $289,620 – more than any other hydrant in the city.
So, why is this one particular hydrant such a cash cow for the city? There are a few possible explanations. It’s right by the courthouse and near a major downtown intersection. The hydrant itself is in the middle of a busy sidewalk set back some distance from the street, and it would be easy enough for drivers to miss. No markings on the street make it obvious that the spot is off-limits.
Anthony Fabrizi, the city’s manager of parking ticket operations, says the hydrant needs to be a certain distance from the street so pumper trucks can park there.
“There’s lots of logic to the madness when you see behind the scenes,” Fabrizi said.
In Toronto, the fine for parking within three metres of a fire hydrant is $100. It used to be $30 until the city hiked the fine in early 2008.
Fabrizi says all parking fines, including those from parking next to hydrants, add up to $80-million a year.
Most parking tickets in Toronto are handed out to people who let their parking meters expire or who park in no-parking areas. Tickets for parking too close to fire hydrants only accounted for 1.45 per cent of all parking infractions last year.
While the hydrant at 393 University Ave. is by far the city’s golden goose, many others are also quite lucrative.
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1. 393 University Ave., $289,620
2. 112 Merton St., $212,300
3. 33 Elmhurst Ave., $207,030
A nearby federal government building may explain all the parking tickets. The Joseph Shepard building houses branches of Passport Canada, a Canadian Forces recruiting centre and several other federal departments.
4. 56 The Esplanade, $191,110
5. 5519 Yonge St., $173,330
6. 99 Atlantic Ave., $163,760
7. 361 University Ave., $152,530
8. 43 Elm St., $152,220
9. 5100 Yonge St., $145,310
10. 6 Spring Garden Ave., $131,110
In Ottawa, the hydrant on Beech St. between Preston St. and Rochester St. has netted the city more than $65,000 since 2008. The hydrant is the city’s biggest money maker. More than 1,100 tickets have been handed out at that spot.
So why is this one hydrant such a cash cow for the city?
A couple of bylaw officers out on a recent patrol think it’s because the white lines painted on the road on either side of the hydrant make it look like a parking space when it isn’t. The lines are actually there to show people where they can’t park.
The bylaw officers, who didn’t want to give their names because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly, say there’s almost always someone parked in front of the hydrant, even when the rest of the street is completely empty.