By Melissa Peters for Queen Street News
People who can afford homes with parking spaces (and who happen to know the right people) are calling the city and telling them to take parking spots from those who DON’T have them. On October 28, 2019, between two and four parking spots were ELIMINATED from the waterfront, just east of Kew Gardens.
In the heart of the Beach neighbourhood, down by the water, is the intersection of Hammersmith and Hubbard. A three-storey building with 18 units backs on to the boardwalk, offering a stunning view of the lake to lucky residents since 1929. Over the years, more and more single-family homes have been built around 15 Hubbard and the surrounding area, but, as prices soared, many have been converted into multiple-unit, often fourplex-style dwellings. It’s no secret that parking is at a premium in the Beach, especially when the weather is nice, and as more people flock to live near the Boardwalk, it is already next to impossible for the locals to park anywhere near their homes.
There aren’t really places to put new parking spots down by the lake without destroying the natural beauty that makes the Beach so popular in the first place, so what has the city done recently to address the parking shortage in the Beach? They started by converting the bottom end of a bunch of residential streets into paid parking, which eliminated over thirty spots north of Queen. That didn’t go over well. But they didn’t stop there. As of Monday, the area around 15 Hubbard is now down an ADDITIONAL 2-4 parking spots as the signs went from “No Parking within 15m” to simply “No Parking” at the intersection of Alfresco Lawn and Wineva Avenue. Apparently some homeowners on Wineva didn’t like looking out the side windows and seeing the tops of cars, so they called the city and asked them to change the rules on that corner to eliminate the parking near the stop signs facing south and east on that particular intersection.
The city complied. If you look at the intersection, you will see that the stop sign is actually set BACK from the intersection, so parking in the previously legal spots was already WELL behind the legal 9m limit from the corner. The intersection isn’t completely straight either- it jogs slightly, so you can see oncoming cars coming and going well before making any turn or proceeding. The cars that were parked there before October 28th weren’t posing any sort of safety hazard, weren’t blocking any driveways or views, weren’t blocking a graded sidewalk designed for wheelchairs, weren’t blocking fire hydrants. They were just empty, handy, premium parking spaces that the local residents would downright celebrate finding so close to home.
One resident who has been here for the better part of twenty years had to drive around the block three times tonight before finally parking nineteen houses north of his front door. When the city was asked what became of this long-time resident’s trusty parking spots, he was told that multiple calls had been made to 311 complaining about the cars parked near the stop sign and that the city had sent someone out to inspect the intersection and assess whether or not the parking spots were posing safety concerns. When asked if this practice was normal, or if it was normal for perfectly safe spots to vanish into thin air, the answer was NO.
It’s amazing that parents can beg for speed bumps near a school, and not get them until a child gets hit by a car, while a city councillor gets them on his or her street (nowhere near a school zone) the following week. It’s unlikely that anyone could call 311 and have parking spots eliminated from an area in dire need of them, unless said person had some serious influence over the person or persons making decisions. The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen, and now, even fewer of those who can actually afford to have a car in the Beach will be able to park their cars south of Gerrard.