Mysterious parking ticket gives electrician a jolt

TORONTO, ONTARIO - There is no "war against the car" – that is a right-wing catchphrase which muddies the debate about public transportation in this town – but there has always been a war here against those who park on city streets.

Now cue the fife and drum, raise the flag of the people and sound the charge against tyranny.

Norman Stavretis is fighting back. He is taking on the parking cops.

Norman is an electrical contractor who lives near Danforth and Coxwell. One morning recently, just after 8 a.m.

, he pulled his van out of his driveway and parked on the street because the driveway is shared, and he is a good neighbour.

He went back inside and gave his daughter breakfast, then she went off to school and he drove off to work.

Norman has a contract with the company that owns the Toronto Star building at 1 Yonge St. He takes care of the little jobs – if a pump fails, he is there; if the lighting goes on the fritz, there he is.

We were talking near the entrance to the Star the other day. He said: "After I left home that morning, I came here. I pulled into the little lot at 10:31 a.m. I had to meet some people, and I had to look at some jobs, and I had to pick up the hydraulic bender – it needed repairs."

A hydraulic bender is a device for bending pipes.

Norm finished his meetings, went back to his van, swiped his security card to gain entry, then drove down into the belly of the building and picked up the bender.

He left at 10:59 a.m. He drove straight home and parked in the same spot where he'd parked earlier that morning.

A little while later, he came out and saw he had been given a ticket for $15.

According to the citation, he had been parked in the same spot for more than three hours, from 9:17 a.m. to 12:26 p.m.

He fumed. He called the parking authority and asked for a supervisor. He said there must be some mistake – how on earth could he have been someplace when he was clearly someplace else.

He didn't get a useful answer.

He asked what method the parking cops used to determine the infraction. He was told that, if he wanted to find out, he would have to file a Freedom of Information request.

Oh, for the luvva....

Norman insisted that he had gone away and come back. He also suggested that the officer who issued the ticket was, um, badly mistaken. He was told that the system is very reliable.

Norman hung up.

He was faced with the prospect of taking the time off work to fight the ticket and – gallingly – of having to pay for parking when he took the ticket to court.

And there are no guarantees in court, even when you are right.

Then it hit him: There are time-coded security cameras at 1 Yonge St.

He asked to see the digital record. It shows him coming and going from the building on the morning in question.

What will he do now?

He will fire when ready. He will keep his powder dry. He will not shoot until he sees the whites of their eyes.

He will also ask some pointed questions about how it was determined that his van was at home when it was so very clearly elsewhere.

We talked again the other day. Norman told me that he would be given a court date in six months.

Time and space are relative.

This case is open and shut.



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