Taxis get ap­proval to park at 18 hy­drants

Toronto Star - - GREATER TORONTO - JACK LAKEY What’s bro­ken in your neigh­bour­hood? Wher­ever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. Email [email protected]­tar.ca or fol­low @TOS­tarFixer on Twit­ter

Don’t be sur­prised to see taxis roost­ing in front of select fire hy­drants in the down­town core, with no fear of a pricey park­ing ticket.

As part of a pilot pro­ject, the city has des­ig­nated 18 hy­drants as wait­ing ar­eas for taxis, with more to come, if the ini­tia­tive is a suc­cess.

We re­cently wrote about the re­moval of signs warn­ing of two hy­drants on Univer­sity Ave. that are so far back from the curb that drivers look­ing for park­ing of­ten don’t see them, mak­ing them sit­ting ducks for a $100 ticket. They were re­moved to make way for new signs in­di­cat­ing that one taxi could park in the area in front of the hy­drants; we thought it was a dumb idea to take them down. Af­ter our col­umn (and some en­cour­age­ment from Mayor John Tory, who also thought it was dumb) the city re­versed course and re­turned the fire hy­drant warn­ing signs to their right­ful place.

In­for­ma­tion for­warded to us by city of­fi­cials in­cluded a let­ter to Toronto fire Chief Matthew Pegg, ad­vis­ing that 18 down­town lo­ca­tions for taxis to park in front of hy­drants were ap­proved by city coun­cil last sum­mer.

It says the “Stands for Taxi­cabs at Hy­drants Pilot” cre­ates ad­di­tional park­ing for taxis “by uti­liz­ing the three me­tres of curb space on ei­ther side of a hy­drant that is other­wise a ‘No Park­ing Any­time’ area.

“The pilot will al­low taxi­cab op­er­a­tors to park or stand at hy­drant lo­ca­tions, marked by an au­tho­rized sign, to wait for hire, pro­vided they re­main with their ve­hi­cles at all times and va­cate the spot when re­quired,” by the fire depart­ment or au­tho­rized of­fi­cials.

“All lo­ca­tions se­lected for the pilot have been field-checked, deemed to be suit­able, and are sub­ject to posted rush hour pe­riod and other reg­u­la­tions.”

City of­fi­cials told us more hy­drants could be des­ig­nated if the pro­ject re­sults are pos­i­tive, but it raised a ques­tion not an­swered in the doc­u­ments: does it ap­ply to Uber and Lyft drivers?

The pilot pro­ject “is in­deed re­stricted to taxi­cab op­er­a­tors only, and not Uber op­er­a­tors,” said a note from Paul Sabo, an op­er­a­tional plan­ning and pol­icy engi­neer with the city.

Sabo said that un­der the Toronto Mu­nic­i­pal Code, only a taxi­cab, “the owner of which is li­censed by the City of Toronto to op­er­ate within the city” meets the def­i­ni­tion re­quired to park in front of des­ig­nated hy­drants.

So Uber and Lyft drivers are out of luck, but it’s not nearly the hand­i­cap it might seem. Who hasn’t parked in front of a hy­drant and then skedad­dled when a park­ing en­force­ment of­fi­cer came along?

The fact is, any­body can park in front of a hy­drant, as long as they stay with their ve­hi­cle and hit the road be­fore the of­fi­cer can tag them for it. Which means there’s more air than any­thing else to this new reg­u­la­tion.

This Univer­sity Ave. taxi space is one of 18 the city has freed up in front of fire hy­drants.

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