Trish Bongard Godfrey

Council Considers Citywide Ban on Pad Parking

03 March 2016
Trish Bongard Godfrey

We’re all familiar with pad parking – the practice of paving a front yard to turn it into a private parking space. In order to legally park in a front yard in Toronto, homeowners must apply and pay for a license from the city. For years, there’s been a moratorium on issuing new licenses for front yard pads within the former City of Toronto. Many properties north of St. Clair West were in the City of York, so owners there have still been able to apply for new pad parking licenses. However, that could change.

On December 9 and 10 last year, Toronto City Council debated a motion by Councillor Shelley Carroll to extend the moratorium on front yard parking pads to the entire city. This proposal would make new front yard parking spaces a thing of the past in our neighbourhood. The motion was referred to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee for the time being.

But let’s take a moment to consider how this might affect you.

Parking is precious. Not just a matter of convenience, it affects the value of a property. In a city of crowded curbs and narrow (or non-existent) driveways, front yard parking is an appealing option for some homeowners. However, applying for a pad parking permit can be costly and time-consuming. Then there are several regulatory hoops to jump through once an application succeeds. For example, the applicant will probably need to consult many nearby neighbours on the change. They may also be required to plant a tree on the property, or pay to have the City plant it. All told, front-yard parking permits are difficult to obtain.

One argument against front yard parking is environmental. Creating a parking pad often means paving over a lawn. Writing for the Star in December, columnist Edward Keenan noted that too many paved surfaces make it harder for rainwater to be absorbed. He suggested that in the worst case, this could lead to water contamination from overflowing sewer systems.

Around an individual home, some additional pavement may be helpful. If sloped away from the house, it can reduce the risk of basement flooding. But the “big picture” looks a little different. Pavement may protect individual homes, but more pavement means less water absorbed into the ground – and Councillor Carroll’s argument is that this water may end up in people’s basements. According to Councillor Carroll’s motion, the pad parking ban is part of the City’s strategy to reduce flooding overall.

Another consideration is that a new pad parking place may affect the public parking situation on the entire street. If a curb needs to be cut to make the driveway wider, that may remove an on-street parking space that neighbours could have used. City Council does not want to give up street parking in favour of private parking if possible.

Now let’s consider what the regulations mean if you’re buying or selling a home. Parking adds value to a property. If you have a legal parking pad, backyard parking or ample on-street parking, consider that a value-added feature of your property. If you’re a purchaser, expect to pay more for a property with parking. If an MLS property listing says there is parking, double-check the Seller’s claim that the pad is legal and make the fees have been paid up.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home that appears to have pad parking, you need to ensure the parking space was legally permitted to start with, and that the annual fees have been paid. The parking license won’t automatically transfer to the new owner when they buy the property. They’ll have to apply to the City to renew the parking license, and pay a yearly renewal fee to maintain it.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home without parking, don’t assume that front yard parking will be easy to get. Applications take a while to process and are often turned down (for the reasons above). Council hasn’t made a decision on extending the ban, but be aware that if the motion passes, homeowners may not be able to install new pad parking anywhere in Toronto.

Information on parking permits, regulations and application forms are available online at toronto.ca, or by calling 311. An updated index of addresses with licensed off-street parking is available online here.

If you’re curious about this issue, contact your Councillor for more information:

Ward 21 – Councillor Joe Mihevc, 416-392-7460, councillor_mihevc@toronto.ca

Ward 15 – Councillor Josh Colle, 416-392-7906, councillor_colle@toronto.ca

Ward 17 – Councillor Cesar Palacio, 416-392-0399, councillor_palacio@toronto.ca


* This information was compiled from sources believed to be accurate, but should not be relied upon without further verification. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. However, the author accepts no responsibility for errors and omissions.