Did any of these fire hydrants earn more than you?
Hidden away inconspicuously on the outskirt of a parking lot in Liberty Village sits the most lucrative fire hydrant in Toronto. Beside a nearby picnic table, its closest neighbour is the old Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co. building—now home to a menagerie of trendy restaurants and loft-office film and multimedia firms.
As it happens, the city’s hydrants are not just good for fighting fires—collectively, these pieces of vital street furniture garnered just over $3 million in parking ticket fines last year according to analysis of a recent data set released by the city, and first written about by David Brait.
Of the approximately 2.1 million tickets issued by law enforcement for parking infractions last year, 33,729 were levied for parking within 3 metres of a hydrant.
Here’s what they look like, and where you should look a bit longer for the right parking spot.
99 ATLANTIC AVENUE
Few of the hydrants covered in this list are come with particularly conspicuous warning signs. In fact, the municipal code itself contains some confusing wording.
It isn’t necessarily parking three metres from a hydrant “as the crow flies,” that will get you in trouble, but rather three metres from “the imaginary line’ on the point on the street where the hydrant is located,” regardless of how far the hydrant sits from the curb.
For those used to navigating the city from behind a wheel, the hydrant at 99 Atlantic Avenue may come as a bit of a surprise at the top of this list considering the relatively bucolic vibe of the surrounding neighbourhood. Despite this, it earned the city a whopping $44,700 last year from over 400 tickets.
Though it may be the most profitable—and oddly popular, at least among the more unconscious parkers—Toronto’s Liberty Village cash cow pales in comparison to clusters along downtown’s thoroughfares.
393 UNIVERSITY AVENUE
Finding street-side parking on University Avenue, one of the city’s larger north-south corridors, is nearly impossible on the average day. 2015 saw more than 300 drivers accidentally occupy the space outside of the office tower at 393 University Avenue resulting in nearly $32,000 in fines. Or maybe it’s just because lots of lawbreakers use 393 University Avenue, the site of the Superior Court of Justice.
5453 YONGE STREET
Tucked between Byng and Holmes Avenues, Yonge Street’s Green Garden Florist enjoys a great reputation among the city’s horticulturally inclined, according to Google reviews. Absent from the location’s evaluations however, is the fact that the hydrant in front of the business’s doors is the third most lucrative in the GTA—it produced $28,400 in fines last year.
33 ELMHURST AVENUE
Opposite Atrium Condos at 33 Elmhurst Avenue in North York near the Sheppard-Yonge TTC station is the city’s fourth highest-earning hydrant. Had one more unlucky motorist mistakenly approached the hydrant on the North-right side in 2015, this location would have tied for third on the list.
361 UNIVERSITY AVENUE
Oh look, another courthouse! Located on one of the city’s major central routes, those ticketed within spitting distance of the hydrant on University donated $28,100 last year in fees. As if having to go to court weren’t bad enough, finding legal parking outside added insult to injury for 280-odd people in 2015.
112 MERTON STREET
The sixth entry on the list is found in Davisville nearest the Geneva Centre for Autism. Like some of the other hydrants named here, the one at 112 Merton Street is couched unnoticed in a green patch beyond the sidewalk; perhaps leaving some looking to ditch the car and spend an afternoon in the nearby Kay Gardner Park under the impression that they were in the clear. In 2015, the hydrant brought in $23,700.
592 MARKHAM STREET
Near Annex institutions: the Central, the Beguiling, Victory Café, and Honest Ed’s, the building at 592 Markham Street houses the Annex Gleaner as well as Art Zone in the heart of the sleepy and not-long-for-this-world Mirvish Village. Those in search of parking in the area would be better served heading North of Bloor rather than pulling up on Markham itself—this location added just over $21,000 to the city’s coffers last year.
500 WELLINGTON STREET W
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of King Street West near the intersection of Wellington and Portland, the chic modern condos at 500 Wellington Street West tower over a hydrant planted at the base of the building’s grounds. Whether they were inattentive visitors to the residence, or just club-goers looking for a close spot, this location’s victims forked over $20,600.
17 LILLIAN STREET
The eighth most profitable hydrant in the city last year is bookended by two young trees at the crest of an embankment overlooking a burdened parking lot near the intersection of Lillian Street and Soudan Avenue. The immediate area south of Eglinton is densely packed with mid-rise residential properties, making the West side of the street an attractive option for those left without a space in the lot. 205 tickets were issued last year to drivers who got too close to the clearly visible yellow hydrant.
5460 YONGE STREET
Opposite Yonge from the third entry on this list in front of the shops at 5460 Yonge Street in North York, the penultimate entry on the list earned $19,800 for the City of Toronto in 2015.
56 THE ESPLANADE
Producing $19,100 in fines in 2015, the final slot belongs to the hydrant outside the Scotland Yard pub on The Esplanade. Roughly 190 tickets were administered last year to drivers parked near the Old Spaghetti Factory and the St. Lawrence Market.
While returning to your vehicle after a brief run into the store or following a leisurely weekend stroll to find a $100 ticket is never fun, most of Toronto’s by-law infringers can take solace in the fact that they didn’t have to suffer the alternative. If you’re parked in front of a hydrant and there is a fire, emergency services won’t wait for you to come and move; they’ll just break your windows and feed the hose through your car.