I was out and about this week. My journey found me somewhat “downtown” Toronto. This particular incident found me near Yonge and Sheppard (in fact on a little street that runs north from Sheppard parallel to Yonge). This is all a very busy area on a weekday and I understand, in general, the need for the parking officers to ply their trade.
Now I wasn’t worried about parking at this particular time — I had no intention of parking. But I did have an important phone call to answer. One that would occupy my thoughts and which could even require me making reference to some notes on my laptop. I have a hands-free set for use in the car and for most conversations I feel that I’m likely more aware of the road while on a phone call than many otherwise distracted Toronto drivers. However, I also know my limits and I decided to pull over to give this call my full attention.
I pulled over on this side street ahead of a line of parked cars. I could have parked there, should I have needed to. Parking was legal for that place and time of day with Toronto’s pay and display one-meter-per-street system. I was not, however, parking. I shut off the engine, I took my call.
While on the call, a parking officer arrived and knocked on my window. He told me that I needed to buy a parking chit. I informed him politely that I was not parking, that I was on a phone call and that I’d appreciate no further interruptions. He proceeded to ticket a few other cars on the street (I am still aware enough of my surroundings while on a call to keep tabs on him).
Roughly 10 minutes later he returns and tickets me for parking without displaying a receipt. This is wrong for so many reasons.
- As a matter of principle, not parking is not parking.
- As a matter of public policy, giving tickets for stopping in this manner could encourage people to idle around the block while they waited for someone.
- As another matter of public policy, people who pull over to have a telephone conversation should be given every encouragement to do so if we are serious about calling drivers out for their (lack of) attention.
Of course I have already disputed the parking ticket. I have also lodged a complaint with the Toronto Police Service. I have also left these details with some folks at the CBC hoping that they might pick up the story. Giving me this ticket was wrong-headed and I believe that it needs to be properly corrected.