Long running battle with Police Services over illegal ticketing of taxi drivers during rush hour falls on deaf ears
by Mike Beggs
Having run into yet another bureaucratic brick wall, Toronto owner/operator Gerry Manley says he has ceased his fight against the alleged illegal ticketing of Toronto taxi and limo drivers during rush hour.
He says cabbies have been erroneously receiving No Stopping tickets for $80 or $150, even though they clearly have an exemption under the amended Parking Bylaw, in Chapter 150-400.
Manley has been pursuing this issue since early 2015, and after endless red tape the August 24 response from Sgt. Domenic Bruzzese, with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), was the last straw.
“He sent me a Tolstoy novel, which says absolutely nothing,” he relates. “He goes into this massive explanation. Then, he says his officers are doing the correct thing, and if we don’t like it, TOO BAD, we can follow the options for disputing the ticket as explained on the back of it.
“I can’t do anything else for (our industry members). I’ve exhausted this.”
Manley took this matter to the OIPRD after twice attempting to have the Toronto Police Services Chief of Police handle the complaint, “but never receiving a response that took into account all of the information I submitted.”
He alleges Sgt. Bruzzese’s 12-page report was “over the top”, going into great detail but offering, “no assistance to the taxi industry membership in resolving this issue, outside of wasting your valuable time defending against this illegal ticket.
“He’s trying to backdoor his way out of dealing with this,” he alleges. “It’s smoke and mirrors.”
And Manley reasserts his belief that the alleged wrongful ticketing of taxi drivers supports Mayor John Tory’s “Zero Tolerance” model, under which there would be no exceptions to the No Stopping rule during rush hour, downtown.
“By ticketing, they’re illegally supporting Tory’s stance,” he alleges.
“And ticketing is a massive revenue source (for the City). I guess if you totaled it all up, it would be at least $1 billion a year.”
In answer to the former allegation, Bruzzese responds in his investigative report “The Mayor’s Zero Tolerance policy does not “trump” authorized legislation. Parking Enforcement Officers (PEO’s), in their duties, follow the authorized legislation.”
Pertaining to the taxicab and limousine exemption, the amended Parking Bylaw reads, “They have to be immediately engaged in the loading or unloading of passengers and/or goods.”
But in the May edition of Taxi News, the iTaxiworkers alleged these No Stopping tickets “are being generated under false pretences” while drivers are doing their lawful duties, and that this amounts to a “cash grab”. They say many cab drivers have been ticketed while engaged in pickups or drop-offs, and that the resulting ticket pretty much wipes out their earnings for the entire day.
Manley maintains there is some confusion around the exemption, on the part of both Parking Enforcement Officers, and taxi drivers – some of whom believe they are exempted to pull over, park and idle until the fare arrives.
“They can’t just sit there waiting for the customers (they must be engaged in loading or unloading),” he reminds. “And if the customer isn’t there yet, they should circle the block.”
“They have to understand what the Section says, that they can’t stop there for three or four minutes. The person has to be at the curb, or walking out to the curb.”
That said, he suggests PEO’s should offer cab drivers a brief grace period during rush hour drop-offs and pickups.
In his Investigative Report, Bruzzese claims the Parking Enforcement Supervisor of the Training Section sent a clear and detailed Training Bulletin to all members of Parking Enforcement in February of 2015.”
He concludes that, PEO’s will continue to enforce the code as they are required to do, and, “they will continue to be aware and mindful of all the exemptions, and apply the exemptions as lawfully indicated.”
Drivers no longer have the option of going to court, nor taking their ticket to a police division or parking control office. Bruzzese explains there are, “clear instructions on the back of the ticket.”
“The City of Toronto administers the dispute and collection process, and the Drove Away program. And the terms of the City of Toronto’s administrative penalty does not allow for ticket disputes at police stations, only at locations noted on the reverse side of the ticket,” he writes.
In the conclusion of his report, Bruzzese states, “No deficiency was identified in the delivery of the service (by PEO’s). There’s no further action required.”
But Manley claims the report offers, “no help to our members’ And with court no longer an avenue available to them, he suggests drivers take the ticket to the division of the Parking Enforcement Officer involved, and file a Citizen’s Complaint claiming abuse of authority, and lack of knowledge of the governing bylaw.
He now makes note of the name, address, and phone number of every customer, and the date, time, and location of the pickup, “so if you get a ticket mailed to you a month later, you’ve got somebody to corroborate your evidence.”
He hopes the information he has provided on the parameters of No Stopping laws will help his fellow cab drivers to follow the bylaw as required, going forward.
“(But) they’re not going to take your side, even if you show them they’ve done something wrong,” he warns. “They’re doing zero to correct (the situation).”