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Citizens With Disabilities Ontario (CWDO) is committed to the rights of all persons to participate fully in the civil, cultural, economic, political and social life of their communities.

Parking fines triple

City claims it's not a cash racket

By TAMARA CHERRY, SUN MEDIA

March 14, 2008

Photo of a traffic enforcement officer placing a ticket on someone car windshield.Parking Enforcement Officer Hanif Khakoo tickets a car on the Church St.-Esplanade area. (Jack Boland, Sun Media)

Tripling the amount drivers will pay for parking illegally in disabled, fire hydrant or fire route spaces has nothing to do with increasing revenue for a cash-strapped Toronto, the city says.

"What we are really hoping is that it will not bring any more revenue," the city's director of traffic management Roberto Stopnicki said yesterday, after the new fines took effect.

"What would be ideal is that the actual revenue that is brought as a result of these fines is continuously decreased because the public is continuously abiding by the law."

As of midnight yesterday, parking in a handicapped spot without a permit will cost Torontonians $450, up from $50-$150, depending on different bylaws of former municipalities.

The idea for this hike was conceived in 2002 in response to the provincial Ontarians with Disabilities Act. "The people who actually needed to use the spaces were not able to do that," Stopnicki said. Parking near a fire hydrant will now cost you $100, up from $30. Blocking a fire route will mean $250 out of your pocket, up from $75-$100.

These increases were recommended in 2004, but the city has had to wait until recently for provincial approval.

There were 5,500 handicapped parking tickets issued in 2006, but "severely alarming" was the number of fire-related tickets, Stopnicki said.

Nearly 40,000 were issued for blocking fire routes in 2006 and about 35,000 were for fire hydrant violations, he said.