Every 15 days, a minute after the stroke of midnight, on some Toronto streets, parking with a permit flip-flops. But despite the 12:01 a.m. rule, you likely won’t be fined if your vehicle isn’t in the proper place by 12:02 a.m.
The city and Toronto police permit an informal grace period from 9 p.m. the evening before to 9 a.m. the next morning.
And drivers can appeal tickets that are issued.
“We occasionally forget to move the car on one of those days and we get ticketed,” said Andrew Moore, a resident of Bloor West.
His street alternates permit parking — two weeks on one side, two weeks on the other — during the summer months.
“For years, we were paying those (tickets),” he said. “We never left it (the car) there all day, but certainly, 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning, we would come out and there would be a ticket on the car, and it would be like, ‘ugh, great.’ So we’d pay it.”
Then Moore learned about the informal grace period.
“About two years ago …, we heard that the city would reverse those tickets, if you just told them about it,” he said.
So Moore appealed the last five tickets he received, between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on switch-over days.
All four were withdrawn by the city; the fifth is still pending.
Just what the rules are remains a “grey area,” Moore said.
Anthony Fabrizi, manager of utility and parking operations for the city of Toronto, said the city’s bylaw is clear about the 12:01 a.m. switchover — but a grace period permits some flexibility.
“We’ve implemented this grace period, if you will, or a courtesy, given that we don’t necessarily want people to go out at midnight in the middle of winter and move their vehicles,” Fabrizi said. “So they have the option to move it either prior to the switchover or before 9 a.m. on the day of the switchover.”
While vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street could technically be ticketed “under the letter of the law” during the grace period, they generally aren’t, Fabrizi said.
An exception would be if the vehicle is parked in a way that blocks traffic or pedestrians.
The City of Toronto’s 311 website states that cars that “are ticketed between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon on the switchover days may have their ticket cancelled.”
Previous guidelines “recognized that there were very few circumstances where a person, for example, couldn’t make it out in time for 9 a.m.,” Fabrizi explained.
In “special circumstances,” where vehicles remained parked on the wrong side before noon, the tickets could be cancelled.
Under the new approach, the Administrative Penalty System, “every single ticket is simply reviewed on its own merits. With a grace period, of course, the grace period still exists, but it’s done more independently (as) opposed to a broad, sweeping approach,” said Fabrizi, who added that it’s still accurate to say that cars ticketed between 9 a.m. and noon the day of a switchover may still have their tickets cancelled.
“We will certainly consider it,” he said. “And, if you meet a whole bunch of criteria — for example, you have to be a resident there with a permit, etc. — they will consider cancellation.
“But it’s no guarantee that it can be cancelled and so you might have a scenario where … you might have yours cancelled and I might not have mine cancelled.
“So ‘may’ is the operative word there.”
Fabrizi said the regulations surrounding switchover dates are “a product of the City of Toronto now trying to manage streets and traffic that was built at a time when you didn’t have as many vehicles on the road and certainly you don’t have the congestion and the pedestrians and the population that we have today.
“And I would simply say to that, that these are the best possible rules, given the conditions and the challenges that we face.”
Fabrizi said these rules only apply to streets with parking that alternates sides, where the narrow width of the pavement restricts parking. Parking that alternates sides of the street allows for snow clearing, street cleaning and road maintenance.
Moore said he’s going to be more careful about moving the car on time.
“There’s still a bit of grey area, that says, ‘Hey, you know what? You can fight these,’ ” he said. “And, at least in my case, chances are they’re going to get rid of them for you.
“I guess they’re just being nice.”
With files from Claire Floody and Bryann Aguilar