Sunday, October 21, 2007

I can guess how this one will turn out

"Pylons keep drivers out of free parking spots - Cirque du Soleil visitors forced to park in nearby Impark lots for $15" -- from

Anyone attending the final Cirque du Soleil performances this weekend can save $15 by parking on Commissioners St., where parking is legal, despite the rows of orange pylons that lead drivers to think it is not. ... With two shows on most days and a seating capacity of 2,600 at the Big Top, plenty of parking is needed. To accommodate the vehicles, parking lots have been set up on Commissioners and Cherry Sts. The lots are run by Impark, which operates many private parking lots in Toronto. The fee is $15 per vehicle. Except for the areas around the TTC bus stops, which are marked with "no standing" signs, there are no parking restrictions or signs that limit parking on Commissioners, which means anyone can legally park for up to three hours without worrying about a parking ticket. But a couple of hours before the first performance each day, orange fluorescent pylons appear on both sides of Commissioners, east of the Cirque tent, as well as on Munition St., which runs north from Commissioners, east of Cherry.


On Thursday afternoon, we went to Commissioners just before 5 p.m. Shortly after, we observed a man taking pylons out of the trunk of his car and placing them on Munition and then Commissioners Sts. We asked if there was no parking on Commissioners.
"That's right, no parking," he said.
We asked who he worked for.
"The parking," he replied, motioning towards the Impark lot.
We asked him several times if he knew what authority or permission, if any, that his supervisor had to restrict parking on a public road. He refused to answer and finally sped away in his car. ...

Given the absence of any signs that indicated parking restrictions, we believed there was no reason for the pylons, so we gathered them up and took them away for about two hours, returning them to the Impark lot at 7:20 p.m. By then, both sides of Commissioners were lined with legally parked cars, owned by drivers who didn't have to pay $15 at the Impark lot.

Yesterday, we called Toronto police parking enforcement, to ask if Cirque du Soleil, Impark or any other party had been granted the right to restrict parking on Commissioners or Munition. [The Police said no.] ... We also checked if the city had granted any rights to restrict parking. Steve Johnston, who deals with media for Toronto's transportation services, confirmed that no restrictions are in place on Commissioners or Munition, and none were granted to any party. Many calls to Impark's head office yesterday were not returned. ...

It seems to me that blocking legal public access to public space, forcing people to pay money is not merely a problem, but a crime.

But I can also tell you this: the chances of the Toronto Police Service actually investigating this or charging anybody with this are less than zero. There is something talismanic about the words "it's a civil matter" which causes police to ignore the most egregious white collar or nonviolent lawbreaking. Sad, but true.

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