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The fire hydrant located at 393 University Avenue in Toronto is pictured on Thursday, August 7, 2014. The hydrant, located approximately 20 feet from the street, is the cause of more parking infractions than any other hydrant in the city. (Darren Calabrese/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The fire hydrant located at 393 University Avenue in Toronto is pictured on Thursday, August 7, 2014. The hydrant, located approximately 20 feet from the street, is the cause of more parking infractions than any other hydrant in the city. (Darren Calabrese/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

This fire hydrant cost Toronto drivers nearly $300,000 in parking tickets Add to ...

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

Google Maps
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.

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2. 112 Merton St., $212,300

Google Maps
If you’re visiting Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, don’t park in front of the fire hydrant at 113 Merton St. This unassuming hydrant, tucked between two trees, is the city’s third most-ticketed spot, with 2,165 fines handed out amounting to $212,300.

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3. 33 Elmhurst Ave., $207,030

Google Maps
At 33 Elmhurst Ave., a hydrant lurks in the shadow of a large condo building in North York. Vehicles that parked there have been ticketed 2,253 times since 2008, with fines totalling $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.

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4. 56 The Esplanade, $191,110

Google Maps

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5. 5519 Yonge St., $173,330

Google Maps

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6. 99 Atlantic Ave., $163,760

Google Maps

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7. 361 University Ave., $152,530

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8. 43 Elm St., $152,220

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9. 5100 Yonge St., $145,310

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10. 6 Spring Garden Ave., $131,110

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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.

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