Fire hydrant parking fines account for millions of dollars in annual revenue for Ontario’s municipalities. Each year, desperate people pay the fines because they’re in a rush or unobservant pay the fee for parking too close.
The city of Toronto collected over $24 million dollars in hydrant parking fines between 2008 and 2014. There’s even a famous hydrant that in particular accumulated just shy of 3,000 tickets in six years.
Unlike some parking tickets, there is a method to this madness. For our safety, pump trucks need to be able to access the hydrants in case of an emergency. To avoid an even more expensive towing bill and obstructing firefighters in the line of duty, you’re fined as a sharp reminder not to do it again.
These fines aren’t about a by-law officer having a bad day. It really is about everyone’s safety.
But the question remains: how close is too close?
How close can you park to a fire hydrant?
It’s a basic question we all need to answer to pass our G1 written exam, but no one seems to know.
The answer? In most municipalities in Ontario, you’re not allowed to park within three meters of a fire hydrant or you will receive a fine. They have some other parking rules worth noting as well.
Parking regulations change between provinces and municipalities, so be sure you’re aware of the rules in your region. For example, certain provinces like British Columbia won’t allow you to park within five meters of a fire hydrant.
You also shouldn’t block fire routes if you want to avoid parking fines. Look for the Fire Route signage like this:
How much is the fine for parking too close to a hydrant?
The fine for parking too close depends on where you are in Ontario, but it is typically $100. You can pay your fine in person at your local city hall or most municipalities have an online option.
What if the fire hydrant is set back from the side of the road?
Tickets for fire hydrants that are not directly on the edge of the road are frustratingly common. Remember the Toronto fire hydrant we mentioned earlier? It’s over 20 feet from the street, and yet you will still get a ticket.
The rule of thumb when dealing with a fire hydrant that is back from the road is that you need to park three meters from its closest point to the road, like the example below:
Tips to Avoid Parking Tickets
Parking tickets are an annoyance for us all, but there are a few simple rules that will keep you out of trouble:
- Avoid parking within nine meters of a street corner or intersection
- Obey the hour-limit when parking downtown or in busy areas and neighbourhoods (typically 2 hours).
- Plan ahead! Use GPS technology to locate available public parking before heading out
- Take advantage of public transit whenever possible. The less you drive, the fewer parking spots you’ll need to find!
- Don’t idle in any “no standing” or “no stopping zones,” especially in Toronto
- Check for street signage such as “fire route,” “no parking,” or signs with rush hour restrictions
- Always double-check for fire hydrants… especially if they are set back from the curb.
That covers it. Stay sharp out there and save your money, Ontario!