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Streetside Parking Debate Heats up in Dundas West

Posted by Debbie Pacheco / April 4, 2009

dundas west streetside parkingIf you had to choose between street parking that delays transit or a parking lot, which would you pick?

This is essentially what Toronto city council will decide later this month when voting on the fate of Dundas West's rush hour parking.

The pilot project (approved in the fall of 2007) allows for streetside rush hour parking in a section of Dundas' Little Portugal, between Dovercourt Road and Sterling Road. A TTC report recommends removing the pilot due to one-minute delays along the 505 Dundas streetcar route.

"Even if it is a one-minute delay, that's not significant if we compare how parking is helping revitalize the neighbourhood," says Sylvia Draper-Fernandez, chair of the Dundas West BIA, the main group leading the campaign for permanent rush hour parking in the neighbourhood. The BIA says rush hour parking helped decrease their business vacancy rate from 19 to 12 percent and change their neighbourhood from a throughway to a destination.

As a biker (the pedal kind), that strip of Dundas does feel like a mini highway. I never thought I'd say this about parked cars, but they're the better of two evils. I'd rather share a lane with a stationary car than a speeding one that leaves me no choice but to ride as close to the sidewalk as possible. With parked cars, I just have to ensure a door doesn't clip me.

Councillor Adam Giambrone (Ward 18) initially voted to implement the rush hour pilot in 2007 as a short-term solution for this section of his ward. I covered this issue in November 2008 when the pilot was up for its one-year review at the Toronto and East York community council. At the meeting, Giambrone voted to rescind the Dundas strip's existing rush hour parking privileges by October 2009.

He told community council that voting for permanent rush hour parking would be hypocritical after council adopted the Sustainable Transportation Initiative that encourages alternative transportation.

Community members felt he acted as TTC chair and not their ward councillor.

What makes this issue confusing is that after community council voted to rescind Ward 18's strip of rush hour parking in November, they voted to allow rush hour parking directly east of the Dundas West BIA two months later in Ward 17.

Also, how does a parking lot improve a neighbourhood or the city's goals of endorsing alternative modes of transportation?

BIA Giambrone posterThe BIA's campaign is getting attention with their Obama-like campaign posters created by artist and Lula Lounge co-owner, Jose Ortega. On poles and storefronts along Dundas West, the posters depict Giambrone, with the altered message of Nope rather than Hope.

Giambrone's office called the group to voice their displeasure with the posters, calling them a personal attack, says Draper-Fernandez over the phone.

"We've carried a clean fight on this issue, but we're taking a stronger approach. We don't feel our councillor is listening to his constituents," she says.

Photo by Photosapience. Poster graphic is from the Dundas West BIA website.

Discussion

23 Comments

Human Fly / April 4, 2009 at 09:40 pm
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I've commented on this in the Morning Brew, but will comment again...

I've never felt like rush-hour traffic was too fast on Dundas. Speed limits are in place, just like everywhere else in the city, and people respect them.

As a cyclist who has gotten clipped by a car door (well, not clipped exactly, more like unexpectedly and violently knocked onto my ass in the middle of the street where I'm lucky there was no car to run me over) I totally disagree with you on the safety issue. I absolutely hate riding next to a row of parked cars. Riding with cars passing me on the left doesn't bother me at all, though, no matter how fast they're going.

Where do the BIA get this statistic that parking has brought them more business? Did they actually do a survey where they asked customers how they reached their destination? I'm sure most of their business comes from pedestrians and TTC users, just like anywhere else in the city. Where do store-owners get this idea that on-street parking brings customers, anyway? Have a look at Yonge St south of Bloor -- packed most of the day every day but no parking on the street and lots of no left turn/no right turn signs.

Giambrone's right to encourage active transportation.

If the choice is between a parking lot hidden away somewhere and rows of parked cars slowing down streetcars and presenting a hazard to cyclists, then the parking lot does more to encourage active transportation. Motorists are given to many unfair privileges. Cheap parking on main streets is one of them.

I don't know if the posters can be considered a personal attack, but they sure are ugly and I know I'm not the only one who's sick of seeing the famous Obama image turn into a design cliche.
Human Fly / April 4, 2009 at 09:48 pm
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Oh, and one more thing. It's not fair to say that Giambrone's not listening to his constituents. The only ones making a fuss here are store-owners trying to woo motorist-consumers. They make up a small portion of the community and shouldn't feel their concerns trump those of people who live there.
Richard S / April 4, 2009 at 09:51 pm
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Personally, I haven't had an issue with transit being slowed down....its from dundas and bathurst to dundas and yonge that the streetcar slows to a crawl (especially near Chinatown), but that's expected in a downtown area.


And I've always had a laugh at grateful head right next to the sausage company :D
Eli / April 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm
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As a resident of this neighborhood, I believe there needs to be more parking available. The current set up for parking along Dundas West and it's side streets is absurd.

I do not own a car, but occasionally have to borrow one from my parents (thanks mom and dad!). A vehicle is only allowed to have one parking permit. As a result, I cannot obtain a parking permit for the neighborhood I live in. I could get a daily permit, but that costs almost as much as a parking ticket. Therefore, in order for me to park legally, I would have to move my car every couple hours during the day. I would have to drive for two hours during rush hour, as there is no parking space in the neighborhood that allows for a car to park during this time.

The current set up encourages every resident to own a car, and for those that share a vehicle to keep it on the move.

My suggestion is for the city to make a deal with the owners of the closed school at Dundas West and Manning, and allow the schoolyard to become a 'Green P'.
Eli / April 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm
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Correction: "every resident" on my third paragraph should be changed to just "residents".
Tron replying to a comment from Human Fly / April 4, 2009 at 10:27 pm
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Like you, a cyclist almost made a dent on my treasured A8 L. The damage would have been horrendous and a similar dent ended up costing me $4k.

You would think that was the worst part, but no. While I was driving, Tony Hawk decided to overtake me, clipping my front fender, falling over in front, my car launching the bike into the sidewalk, while Tony Hawk was under the car just 2 inches from the wheel. I could have sworn he was done for, but no. He lives another day (thankfully). Cyclists don't exercise any care for road rules and their self-righteousness is usually lethal to them and not my A8.

Many people like me detest the TTC, bikes because nothing compares to cruising even if the destination is a block away. And whenever I street park it is 99% because of a shop. Like it or not in most cases people with cars spend more. Yorkville still has street parking (even with 3 parkades in close distance). It makes a place feel more up-market.

For your info, motoring or its parking is not cheap. The insurance alone on my A8 runs at $800/month. So parking is not by any means cheap. Also when is the last time you had to pay insurance or parking for your bike? Yet it is the biggest risk on the road. Motorists contribute too much to the economy to be chastised or restricted (gas, insurance, license fees, car manufacturing ...)
Human Fly replying to a comment from Eli / April 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm
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Respectfully, it sounds like your problem really lies with the law that says one permit per car. Also, most of the side-streets in that area allow parking during the day, you only get a ticket for parking overnight.
Eli / April 4, 2009 at 10:50 pm
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The side streets are limited to 1-2 hour parking only.
Eric replying to a comment from Tron / April 5, 2009 at 01:44 am
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Actually, in a recent study that either BlogTO or Torontoist referenced (I don't remember which now) it was determined that motorists spend less than both people who cycle and people who take the TTC. Not what you would expect, but as I keep reminding people that's how real rich people stay rich: by not spending money.
Ryan L. / April 5, 2009 at 09:36 am
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http://spacing.ca/wire/2009/02/18/study-finds-that-removing-parking-to-install-bike-lanes-or-widen-sidewalk-would-benefit-businesses-on-bloor/

I believe this was talked about before on this site (and definitely talked about on spacing)

Studies have been done and they've always shown that More Cars != more business.

I'm also of the belief that people who use on street parking are likely going to spend much less in an area than people who walk, take public transit or use parking lots.

I've actually experienced this before when working on a store on Bloor Street. Those who park on the street are generally just there to get one thing done at one particular store. They have no intention of browsing at multiple stores and will often reject encouragements to browse in the one store they intended to visit.

They're usually assholes too. They often demand they receive immediate service (regardless of their place in line) and will complain thoroughly if it takes more than a picosecond to get the item they want out of the stock room (most items at the store I worked at were stored in back). They'll usually tell you why too. "I'm using street parking, so you'd best do everything I tell you right now or I'll have to leave because the meter will run out"

Then you have the -real- assholes who use street parking, but DO NOT PAY for it. Their time is so limited they can't be bothered to pay for 15 minutes worth of parking. Their demands are beyond excessive and their patience, short. I once had someone point to an item, slap down their credit card and as they're leaving explain they are parked illegally and to bring the item and their receipt out to their car.

But in all fairness to drivers, those who parked in -parking lots- were the ones that spent the most in our store.
Human Fly replying to a comment from Tron / April 5, 2009 at 10:13 am
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I'm not going to take the bait and engage you in a tired cars vs bikes debate as it has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

As for you relevant comments...
"Like it or not in most cases people with cars spend more."

As others have pointed out this is a common fallacy.

"The insurance alone on my A8 runs at $800/month. So parking is not by any means cheap."

The amount you spend on insurance has no bearing on the fact that on-street parking is cheap. I fail to see the connection.

"Motorists contribute too much to the economy to be chastised or restricted (gas, insurance, license fees, car manufacturing ...)"

The issue is not whether people should be chastised or restricted from driving. The issue is on-street parking on main streets.
Tron / April 5, 2009 at 10:34 am
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Street parking is a right for motorists just as bus stops and bus stands are there for TTC people.

Moreover no on has the right to enforce upon shopkeepers how to do their business. Just because you take the TTC or ride a bike doesn't mean the city as a whole has to enforce this in every neighborhood possible.

Like on those lame Kensington market Sundays when they don't allow cars in, the neighborhood made the decision. I am not complaining about how I nearly tripped over one fence. I am not complaining about how I will never step in that place again. The neighborhood should decide, not the city, not the cyclists, and not the TTC. Why is everyone getting so worked up about, when once for a change, cars are being preferred?
Chris / April 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm
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Deet darking dis duh dight dor dootordists duss das dus dops and dus dands dar dare door dee dee dee deepole.
Doctor Kiwano replying to a comment from Tron / April 5, 2009 at 01:02 pm
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Hey Tron, your list of economic contributions from motorists left out emergency services, medical services, repairs after accidents, etc. You really shouldn't discount these things, as they come out to be more valuable than insurance premiums, licensing and registration fees, etc. (in fact, they're so much more valuable that large deductibles and small limits have had to be put on liability claims against motorists in order to prevent insurance rates from skyrocketing, or insurers from going bankrupt).

Generally speaking, all that money you spend to use your car isn't actually increasing the overall wealth of society (and is, in fact, externalizing costs). How about you go and read about the Broken Window Fallacy (it's on Wikipedia) before making any arguments about cars as economic stimulus. Your car itself is a part of society's wealth, but that's about the end of it.
fffff replying to a comment from Tron / April 5, 2009 at 01:19 pm
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Hey have you heard of Ron Paul?
chephy / April 5, 2009 at 01:31 pm
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Car driving is actually SUBSIDIZED. The cost of insurance, licensing, gas taxes is not ANYWHERE near the amount of money to even maintain and build the roads (the money to build and maintain non-expressways comes from property taxes, not gas taxes), let alone fix the damage the cars do to the environment and our health. If you were forced to pay the true cost of driving, you probably won't be able to afford it; what you're paying now is peanuts.
Huamn Fly replying to a comment from Tron / April 5, 2009 at 03:24 pm
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"Street parking is a right for motorists"

This is a ridiculous statement. Please learn the difference between rights and privileges.

"Moreover no on has the right to enforce upon shopkeepers how to do their business."

No one's trying to do that here. This is about maintaining the flow of traffic during rush hour.

"Just because you take the TTC or ride a bike doesn't mean the city as a whole has to enforce this in every neighborhood possible."

The city already bans rush-hour parking on most major streets and has done so for a long time. It has nothing to do with whether or not I or anyone else takes the TTC or rides a bike. It has to do with maintaining the flow of traffic.

"Like on those lame Kensington market Sundays when they don't allow cars in, the neighborhood made the decision."

Yes, they did. And those Sundays are a huge success where the crowds are so thick you can barely move and the stores do tons of business. How is that lame, exactly?

"I am not complaining about how I nearly tripped over one fence. I am not complaining about how I will never step in that place again."

I'm sorry you tripped over a fence. I hope you're feeling better now. Whether or not you complain about it doesn't affect me.

"The neighborhood should decide, not the city, not the cyclists, and not the TTC."

The BIA is not the neighbourhood. They should not presume to speak for everyone who lives there.

"Why is everyone getting so worked up about, when once for a change, cars are being preferred?"

The people getting worked up are the BIA. They're fighting for rush-hour parking which inconveniences people driving cars. How does that "prefer cars"? I have yet to meet a motorist who enjoys getting stuck in rush-hour traffic.
Elle Driver / April 5, 2009 at 06:46 pm
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"I'm sorry you tripped over a fence. I hope you're feeling better now."

Hahahahaha! Best line of the day. :)

I'm really surprised that Jose Ortega created that god-awful poster. He's a great (and successful) artist in his own right, and I'm really astonished to see him put his name to something so trite and cringe-inducing.
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