Toronto police launched a blitz on illegal parking during rush hour Monday, cracking down on a major irritant to drivers that has become a political priority for mayor-elect John Tory.
Constable Clint Stibbe said the force put out extra resources during the morning and evening rush. And in spite of a news release that noted specific attention on courier and shredder trucks – which often rack up multiple tickets as the cost of doing business – he said the problem was broader than that.
"The offenders aren't just those particular vehicles, it's everybody," he said. Among the offenders was the driver dropping off a passenger in a no-stopping zone, in front of a fire hydrant. "You've … essentially got a person committing two different offences," he said.
Nearly three years ago, the city adopted harsher fines and more extensive parking restrictions during rush hour, new rules that went into effect in January. Some drivers continue to park illegally downtown during rush hour, though, making congestion worse on key routes. The issue was one Mr. Tory invoked repeatedly during the mayoral campaign as part of his pitch to get the city moving better.
A spokesperson for Mr. Tory noted that he had already had a number of briefings in which he discussed the need for action on tackling gridlock.
"While the mayor-elect does not direct the Toronto police, he was pleased to see the blitz initiated," Amanda Galbraith wrote in an e-mail "As mayor, he will place a priority on taking steps that will bring immediate relief to gridlock, such as towing bad actors impeding traffic."
Data on the number of tickets issued were not immediately available.
Constable Stibbe said that anecdotal observations from people on patrol suggested that media reports about the blitz prompted some drivers to change their behaviour, with fewer offenders than usual on some roads.
A traffic expert questioned, though, whether these blitzes have any sort of lasting effect. Ryerson University professor Murtaza Haider, director of the Institute of Housing & Mobility, said that congestion is a real problem and that illegally parked vehicles are a contributing factor. But he argued that local drivers are too accustomed to getting tickets for a one-day effort to bear fruit.
"It is such a norm in Toronto and other big cities to be ticketed if you're parked illegally that a blitz wouldn't necessarily make a difference," he said. "These spot-checks make a difference … where such is not the routine."