News / Ottawa

Ottawa issues tickets during overnight bans, but fails to tow

Overnight bans designed to clear the way, but cars aren't moving slowing down snow removal.

Ottawa is ticketing, but not towing cars during parking bans leaving the vehicles in the road.

Metro file

Ottawa is ticketing, but not towing cars during parking bans leaving the vehicles in the road.

Ottawa didn’t tow a single car during two recent overnight parking bans, leaving snow plow operators to work around thousands of vehicles to clear the roads.

While tow trucks stayed out of the mix, On December 30, by-law staff handed out 4,195 parking tickets. This Wednesday netted a quarter fewer, with 3,060 tickets.

The city’s parking enforcement chief says Ottawa’s bylaw officers and private tow trucks would simply have too many cars to tow.

“Given the potential number of vehicles parked on-street city-wide, towing such a large number is not feasible,” Troy Leeson told Metro in an email. “Enforcement acts as a deterrent to impeding snow clearing operations by parking on-street.”

Councillor Diane Deans says that might be the best policy, with the drop in tickets suggesting some people took notice.

“There's an additional cost to our taxpayers to send those plows down the road a second time,” said the Gloucester-Southgate councillor. “It’s a nuisance if our residents aren’t obeying it”

The city does tow vehicles (including permit holders) during snow clearing, which involves removing existing snow banks in high-density areas. But not during plowing , despite the overnight parking ban public announcements indicating they could tow vehicles.

According to the number of cars ticketed and the fine charged ($75 within 15 days, $95 after) the city will make between $229,500 and $398,525 for each of the two overnight bans . The city said that offsets the cost of deploying plows and 42 by-law staff.

Councillor David Chernushenko said he hasn’t heard from residents upset they were ticketed. Rather, he often gets complaints about “increasingly narrow and rutted” streets in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, and snowbanks that lean into most of the road despite multiple plowings.

“Once that gets thawed and then frozen into a solid bank, it's something that's extremely hard to undo.”

Chernushenko said the city should consider moving cars, but not necessarily impounding them.

“In other cities, they tow the car to the next nearest block or sidestreet , or one that has already been plowed .”

The city’s road services director said blocking plows is more than just a nuisance. “We need to ensure that roads remain safe and passable for vehicles, including emergency vehicles at all times,” Luc Gagné said.

Deans has been encouraging residents to register for the e-alert newsletter program. She’s curious to know how many people took up the city’s offer of free parking in city garages during the ban.

"I'm aware that it's not convenient for everyone, but living in a snowy nation's capital isn’t necessarily the most convenient thing," she laughed.

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