Mayor Tory, Musical Chairs and Traffic Congestion in Toronto

 

Urban congestion was one of the major issues in the last Toronto muncicipal election.  Between transit and personal vehicle use there was a general agreement that the local Toronto Council had missed the boat for almost twenty years and is now facing a crisis.  We're not moving people efficiently on public transport and the car is still KING!  The recent announcement by the Province of Ontario of mulitple on-going highway projects with some being six-lanes wide is just one indicator of elevating volumes of vehicles consuming asphalt on a daily basis.  Last year, 2015, saw Canada set a NEW record for vehicle sales.  So. despite the talk about reducing vehicle use, easing congestion, lessening vehicle particulate from spewing out of exhaust pipes or even the greening of driving with electric cars we still have a problem and especailly in the inner-city where Mayor Tory has been trying to make some inroads.

The very fact that we currently have a Mayor that had to remind City staff (aka. Parking Enforcement) to stop allowing people to park their cars in a rush hour zone to get a Tim's is embarrassing.  Does "No Parking 4 - 6 PM" mean something different to City staff?  Are City staff just being nice by not giving us tickets during this time?  Rules are rules and good for Mayor Tory for getting it done.  New developments closing down entire lanes on major arteries and all rubber stamped by Council is also embarrasssing.  Is no one actually watching the streets and why are we allowing developers to add to an already congested situation?  We need traffic structure, long term plans to keep things moving at an expected urban pace or better.  We spend millions of dollars on maintaining roads, building roads, clearing roads, fixing pot holes and keeping traffic moving.  But there is a wrinkle in all of this traffic madness, actually many wrinkles.

Traffic issues and parking are the bain of every Councillors existence but like it or not they all have to deal with it but in the most peculiar ways.  Let's take parking as an example.  The way that Council has set it up for themselves is interesting.  If a constituent (that's you) wants to have an adjustment to their street regarding the parking regulations the Councillor will ask them to get a signed petition from the whole block agreeing to that change.  Sounds simple right?  What if you live within the first block of a busy street like College or Bloor where you're prime commuter parking territory.  This is precious parking territory yet the City treats this space no differently than any other street in the City.  This first block needs special attention, ask any resident that lives within the first block of a busy street and you'll find they all have the same complaints.  People park their cars on their street ALL day while they are at work.  Free.  No charge.  In a matter of fact Mayor Tory is making it easier for commuters to get downtown and find their favourite residential street to park on all day.

We need a Parking Czar.  An independent body that looks at parking and has the authority, within reason, to change parking signage without having to go to a Councillor.  Why should a Councillor control the streets?  Parking Enforcement is so ineffective that they still use the antiquated method of "chalking" tires and then returning 3 hours later to see if the car moved.  People know the chalk game and erase it from their tires.  Chalking is so labour intensive that they don't even like that part of their job so you must call them to complain or they simply won't be checking your street.  If the City would invest in License Plate Recognition Software then the job is as simple as driving up the street, capturing every plate and then returning and driving back up that street with the LPRS alerting you for every infraction.

Essentially, the entire City of Toronto is a great big game of musical parking cars with a weak Parking Enforcement it makes you wonder if the City wants to encourage commuters to park on residential streets for free.  It's a sad system where Joe Commuter is welcomed by the City of Toronto Parking Encouragement division.  Toronto needs a Parking Czar with teeth to truly address the issue of congestion because that would complete the circle.  People need to see the true cost of parking to change their habits and offering the streets and avenues of Ward 18 for free is not an option.