yorkdale parking

The bonkers state of Yorkdale parking over the holidays

Ding, ding, ding! And the award for the most bonkers parking lot leading up to Christmas in Toronto goes to... Yorkdale Shopping Centre. For around a month now, the crush of customers heading to the mall has reached critical mass during peak hours.

It's so busy here that you feel like a winner if you manage to find a spot in 16 minutes. But, here's the thing: it could be a lot worse. Back when I used to work at the mall as a coat check boy in the 1990s, the parking situation might have been even more out of control than it is today.

Back then it was a free-for-all in the main surface lots where shoppers would duke it out with employees and commuters using the TTC. With the numerous additions to the mall over the years has come significant increases to parking capacity.

The various lots and garages on the property now boast a staggering 8,100+ parking spots, the most of any shopping centre in the city. This number spiked significantly with the latest addition to the mall, bringing 1,000 spots to a five-level parkade next to the new Nordstrom.

This is generally believed to be the best place to park at Yorkdale thanks to signage indicating where available spots are and the fact that long-time visitors are kinda programmed to try Lot A, which is located on Yorkdale's north side.

yorkdale parking lot

The underground lot near Joey is also worth a try thanks to the stop light technology, which shows a green light when a parking spot is available. This can be fun when three or four would-be parkers discover the available spot at the same time and do their best Ryan-Gosling-in-Drive to be the first to get it.

When I paid a visit earlier this month, I was also intrigued to see an army of security and paid duty officers at entry and exit points directing traffic but also stopping to check in with drivers about their purpose at the mall. If you made the mistake of admiting that you were hopping on the TTC, it was sayonara for you.

Despite all the controls in place to manage the lot, at a certain point it becomes difficult to tame the beast. Towards that end, Yorkdale admits that 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. is peak time for traffic and advises shoppers to arrive before or after that to do their shopping.

And, really, this is just common sense. If you try to get a parking spot near the beginning or end of the day, you'll find that it's a cinch. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the drama of the parking lot wars, by all means head over just after lunch.

Lead photo by

Joe Rayment

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