toronto parking rules

Neighbourhood group says curb lane patios make Toronto 'look like the 3rd world'

A proposal to eliminate parking minimums for new residential towers in Toronto has inspired what might be one of the snarkiest (and most-ridiculed) letters sent to city officials for consideration ahead of a formal debate in years.

And I don't mean that in a good way.

The Davenport Triangle Residents Association is one of dozens of groups and individuals that have submitted emails or letters to the Planning and Housing Committee as it prepares to vote this week on recommendations to update both automobile and bicycle parking standards across the city.

City staff (specifically the chief planner and executive director of City Planning and the chief financial officer and treasurer) are, in essence, recommending that Toronto scrap old rules requiring developers to build a certain number of parking spots with each new project.

If approved, these recommendations would not only scrap parking minimums for developers, but implement a maximum number of parking spaces that could be built under or alongside new residential complexes.

"Updating the city's parking standards to better manage auto dependency and achieve a better balance between building too much or too little parking ultimately contributes to building more sustainable and healthy communities," reads a summary of the report set to go before Toronto's Planning and Housing Committee on Thursday.

"The city is facing several major challenges including a climate emergency; decreasing housing affordability; and increasing demand for mobility," the summary continues.

"While not sufficient on its own to overcome these challenges, more strategic, thoughtful management of the parking supply will contribute to addressing all of these challenges."

While many who've taken note of the potential by-law change are applauding the idea — builders included — some locals aren't on board with the idea of nixing parking spaces in favour of infrastructure models that "promote more space efficient modes of travel and discourage automobile travel."

The Davenport Triangle Residents Association, a federally-registered corporate entity representing what was once described by the Toronto Star as "The Annex's Angry Triangle," made its stance clear in a letter sent to council on Monday evening.

"The trendy city war on the automobile is complete liberal naivety. The city needs some viable traffic flow to exist and maintain its vitality," reads the association's letter, dated Nov. 22.

"People who live downtown don't drive around the city for pleasure. It is for practical everyday needs like deliveries, sales calls, tradesmen, taking kids to school, picking up groceries etc. It is fine to use public transit (if it ever achieves the capacity needed for the crowds that do use it) to get to and from work, school, or an entertainment venue but try to pick up a case of beer on your bike in the winter."

But it's not only the idea of capping the number of parking spots built with new developments that the Davenport Triangle residents are mad about — whoever wrote their atypically-emotional letter takes off on another semi-related tangent about Toronto's popular CafeTO program.

"The City Council has been congesting traffic non-stop with roadside patios, even though they are 80 per cent unused and make the city look like the 3rd world," reads the letter, referring to the newly-extended curb lane patio program.

"Circulation is the lifeblood of the city and it is naive to think cyclists and pedestrians will keep the city alive and viable. They can enjoy life in the residential areas but the main thoroughfares need to keep things moving."

And then comes the kicker in the form of a line that has earned this particular letter widespread condemnation and mocking in recent days:

"There are no captains of industry, or tradesmen taking a bike to work or mothers cycling their kids to school," it reads. "The Council and City Committees need to get in touch with the real world."

Questions about the letter's tone and how it even got released in the first place have been circulating on Twitter and Reddit in recent days as Toronto residents mock the general sense of NIMBYism portrayed by this group.

"This is just an embarrassing thing to have as recorded correspondence," wrote one critic on Reddit.

"This whole letter reads like a parody," said another.

Perhaps taking note of public reaction or, I don't know, sobering up from whatever they were high on to think such words would sway anyone in their favour, the association updated its letter on Wednesday. 

"Having given more thought to the proposed reduced or eliminated parking minimums we would like to withdraw our objection. We still believe there are other new initiatives that interfere with the viability of the City's circulation continuing to function but reducing parking minimums is not one of them," reads a blurb at the top if the file.

"Developers know the market for the number of profitable parking spots that they can sell as extras to condo buyers. Those without a car do not buy them. Perhaps developers are currently forced to build more than the market can absorb."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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