parking toronto

People are complaining that parking signs in Toronto are too confusing

Though Toronto has been described as a city that prioritizes cars over pedestrians and cyclists, if you've ever actually had to drive in the city, you'll know that finding a place to park can feel damn near impossible.

Whether you're visiting a friend, quickly stopping in to a store to grab something or are a vehicle-owning resident who isn't lucky enough to rent an apartment with a parking space, it's not only securing a spot to leave your vehicle on the busy city streets that can feel difficult but also actually discerning where and when, exactly, you're allowed to park.

The city has parking bylaws that designate certain zones as no parking under any circumstances, no parking during certain times, parking with a permit only during certain times, parking for only certain durations during certain times, no standing at any time, and no stopping — the signage for which can seem a little confusing to some.

Add in the fact that vehicles are only allowed to park on one side of the road on many sidestreets — a side that changes throughout the year — and it quickly becomes pretty easy to get a ticket, even for those with the best intentions of following the rules.

This "alternate side parking" business, in particular, has proven quite the hassle for drivers, especially those that live in the area and find themselves having to find a spot to move their car multiple times a month, with parking on one side of an affected street permitted between the 1st and 15th day of certain months, and then the 16th to the last day during others.

The confounding directives exist to help with snow clearing, street cleaning, road maintenance and other such city tasks, but can take a few moments to sit and figure out, as one Twitter user noted this weekend when she snapped this picture on Pacific Avenue in the High Park neighbourhood.

The signs show no parking between midnight and 7 a.m. without a permit — pretty standard stuff — but then also some alternate side parking regulations that dictate no parking at all between the 1st and the 15th of April through November.

Though parking appears to be allowed from the 16th to the end of the month from March to December, it is only for one hour at a time, and only between the times of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., making for a very limited window in which the street can be used for such a purpose.

"Parking requirements can change for a number of reasons and considerations including delivery of City services, physical and available space, and the needs of the area," a representative from the city says, adding that such rules are usually created in consultation with local residents and Community Council.

"In instances where some streets have a one hour limit, as opposed to applying a blanket City-wide three hour limit, is to help create parking turnover given the needs of the area and physical space and parking that may be available."

Toronto Police Service's Parking Enforcement Unit advises drivers who want to avoid tickets to look out carefully for ever-changing signage, stay away from street corners (which are almost always off-limits for parking), and find a different spot, preferably off-street, if you're at all concerned that you may not be allowed to park in a given location.

Though all of us drivers may be missing the days when the Toronto Police Services Parking unit stopped enforcing parking bylaws due to the pandemic, there are some thoroughfares where parking rules have been amended slightly to give drivers a little more leeway for stopping momentarily.

And, drivers in Toronto are luckier than places like Vancouver, which may adopt permit parking for all its residential streets, or Paris, which is getting rid of half of its parking spaces.

But if you're tired of scant parking options and strict bylaws, you can always take up the sport of winter biking or hop on the ever-crowded TTC.

Lead photo by


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