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‘People have to park in a proper way’: Hospitals among top 10 spots in Toronto where people got parking tickets during the pandemic
Aug. 9, 2021

Two major hospitals were among the most likely places for drivers to get hit with parking tickets in Toronto last year, while visitors to downtown condominiums and popular waterfront parks also racked up thousands of fines.

Parking enforcement across the city was down sharply in 2020 because of the pandemic. But drivers still amassed more than 1.4 million tickets last year, according to city of Toronto data. That was roughly 37 per cent fewer than in 2019.

According to a Star analysis of the city statistics, North York General Hospital at 4001 Leslie St. was the single address where the most tickets were handed out, with more than 5,340. Another health facility, Sunnybrook Hospital’s Bayview Campus, was sixth on the list, with more than 3,100.

The hospitals saw a high number of tickets last year despite restrictions that limited the number of visitors during the pandemic. The majority of tickets at both sites were for parking on private property.

The second busiest ticketing spot was 1 Brimley Rd. S., the street address of Bluffer’s Park and Beach in Scarborough, where more than 3,870 drivers were fined. The beach is a favourite warm weather destination and the three lots nearby are regularly overwhelmed.

A park on the other side of the city, Humber Bay Shores in South Etobicoke, also saw a flurry of fines. More than 3,180 tickets were given out at the park at 15 Marine Parade Dr., which is connected to the well-used Martin Goodman Trail and served by only a small parking lot. That made it the fourth-busiest ticketing location in Toronto.

Aside from York University, the remaining addresses in the top 10 were condominiums, including the Infinity buildings on Grand Trunk Road, between the Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena, and the Eau Du Soleil complex on Lake Shore Boulevard in Mimico.

The vast majority of parking tickets in Toronto are issued by the police parking enforcement unit. Regular police can also hand out fines. But property owners and institutions like hospitals can also hire municipal law enforcement officers, who are civilians trained by police and certified to issue parking tickets on private or municipal property. The revenue from parking tickets goes to the city.

North York General Hospital spokesperson Anne-Marie Flanagan said in an email that the hospital’s main site has a long-standing problem with congestion due its 50-year-old layout, which has limited access points and “insufficient parking capacity.”

She said that in recent years the hospital “has become more vigilant regarding parking enforcement” because “a high number of contractors’, staff members’ and visitors’ cars were blocking access points and fire routes.”

“Safety of NYGH patients, visitors and staff are our top priority,” Flanagan said.

Solomon Ayeneababa, manager of parking and transportation services at Sunnybrook, said the goal of giving out so many fines isn’t to punish hospital visitors, who may already be going through a tough time. But he said the tickets are an important way to keep traffic flowing and ensure access to the facility for health workers, patients and their loved ones.

“The crucial thing is … people have to park in a proper way. They can’t park anywhere they want,” he said. “When we don’t monitor it, we’re going to have a problem.”

However, Ayeneababa said Sunnybrook staff will often cancel tickets if drivers dispute them. “We can work with them,” he said.

Toronto police’s parking enforcement unit dialed back ticketing activity in March 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis set in and traffic volumes dropped. At its lowest point fewer than 18,000 tickets were issued in April 2020, less than one tenth of the same month in 2019.

The force says its officers used discretion and focused ticketing efforts on traffic safety, responding to calls for service, and supporting on-street city programs implemented during the pandemic like ActiveTO and CafeTO.

The unit ramped enforcement back up in July as restrictions eased, but relaxed it again in December as the province reimposed a lockdown.

The slowdown in tickets last year put a dent in the city’s budget. Revenue from parking infractions fell to $79.1 million, from $113.3 million in 2019, according to a city report released in April.

The average set fine for tickets issued last year was just more than $50. The city expects to collect about 83 per cent of the fines.