City Cancels Tickets for Owner of Car with ‘for Sale’ Sign

The City of Toronto will cancel two parking tickets that were wrongly issued to a woman for putting a “for sale” sign in her car.

Barbara Bell, who lives in a downtown building without a driveway, has had a city permit to park her car on the street for about 30 years. But when she recently placed a “for sale” sign in her Volkswagen, the result was two $15 fines.

Toronto’s municipal code forbids people to “park any vehicle . . . for the purpose of displaying the vehicle for sale” on a public highway, street, avenue or any other thoroughfare intended for use by the general public.

The code carves out an exemption, however, “where a valid permit is properly displayed on a vehicle on a road,” as Bell had done.

After pointing this out to the city’s legal affairs department, Bell said she was informed her tickets would be cancelled.

“I am very much under the impression that yes, they are dropping the fines and that parking enforcement is going to be informed or reminded of this exemption to the bylaw,” Bell said Friday, adding she was relieved.

“I need to keep my car parked on the street until it sells. I could have it there for 30 days and can you imagine me getting a $15 ticket everyday for 30 days?”

City spokesperson Steve Johnston said legal services staff have reviewed Bell’s tickets, but couldn’t confirm if they have been cancelled due to the city’s privacy policy.

However, he said in an email that city staff have advised Toronto police parking enforcement of the exemption “and have been advised that this information will be relayed to their staff.”

Bell said she was told parking enforcement officers had acted properly when she previously called the city to ask about exemptions for permit holders.

On Thursday, she printed out a copy of the exemption and placed it in her car window, along with a note to parking enforcement that said, “please don’t ticket me.”

Bell feels better communication by city staff could have saved her the hassle of getting the tickets cancelled, noting the bylaw and exemption in question are written pages apart in the municipal code.

“I can’t really blame the people at the City of Toronto who I spoke to who just said ‘yup, that’s the law,’ because they’re looking at what they see in the first section,” Bell said. “They’re not looking for exemptions. It’s all on how the information’s communicated and that’s what has to be fixed.”

There may be another silver lining. Thanks to all the attention she received, Bell said she’s been getting more inquiries about her car.

“It will be really silver if someone bought the car,” she said. “When you see things like this, if you have the time to question it, because it does take time, it can be worthwhile.”

With files from Peter Goffin

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