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Can I get a parking ticket on private property?

I just received a ticket for parking on the side of the curb at a strip mall in front of a No Parking Fire Route sign. I was running in to get my dry cleaning. Ontario's Highway Traffic Act does not apply on private property, including mall parking lots. So is that No Parking sign enforceable? – Paul

Unless you were parked in a fire truck and smoke was pouring out of the dry cleaners, No Parking means No Parking. The Highway Traffic Act doesn't apply on private property in Ontario, but local bylaws -- such as parking regulations -- do.

"Parking rules are not governed by the Highway Traffic Act, rather, authority is provided through the various City bylaws," says Anthony Fabrizi, Manager, Utility Billing and Parking Operations with the City of Toronto.

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Municipal parking rules apply in mall parking lots, but in Ontario (and only in Ontario) the Highway Traffic Act (the provincial rules of the road) doesn't -- so you can get a parking ticket in the lot at Costco, but not a speeding ticket.

In Toronto, for example, there's a bylaw against blocking a fire lane. The bylaw applies on city streets and on private property, such as the parking lot.

The big difference between a parking ticket and a traffic ticket? A parking ticket doesn't appear on your driver's abstract and so it doesn't affect your insurance coverage.

If you don't pay a traffic ticket, the MTO can suspend your driver's licence.

If you don't pay municipal parking tickets, your license and record are safe -- but you won't be able to renew your plates.

"Outstanding parking tickets in Ontario must be paid before you can renew your vehicle registration -- the sticker on your car's licence plate," says MTO spokesman Bob Nichols.

Private property owners can call the police to report parking violations, such as non-customers parking in a lot reserved for customers, Fabrizi says. But more commonly, they'll hire security firms or parking enforcement companies to watch out for violations and issue official tickets.

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"Any firm who wishes to conduct this work must have their officers trained and certified as Municipal Law Enforcement Officers," Fabrizi says. "These officers are authorized to issue City of Toronto parking tickets."

Some private firms are not authorized by the municipality to issue municipal tickets -- these firms issue their own tickets instead (they'll ask you to pay the company directly). These tickets have no effect on plate renewal, the MTO says.

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