Religious People in Toronto Don’t Have to Pay Parking Tickets June 8, 2010

Religious People in Toronto Don’t Have to Pay Parking Tickets

If you received a parking ticket in Toronto, it’s not a problem if you’re religious. All you have to do is get a note from your pastor and you don’t have to pay the fine.

That’s one of the revelations discovered when the Toronto city council “voted to release the holy grail of how-tos: the Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines.”

Here’s the portion in question:

So atheists are out of luck. You’re stuck with your parking ticket.

It’s Canada, so someone else can let us know whether that’s legal or not, but it certainly privileges people of faith.

(Thanks to Not Guilty for the link)

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  • Those damn Canadians. Always favoring the religious people. Glad we don’t have that here!

    Oh… 🙁

  • peavy

    So….atheists are out of luck…to park outside of a church…during worship services. What’s your real objection here?

  • What if I set up a shrine to the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the corner of my office…anyone who comes to visit can attend a worship service (they last about 10 seconds). Afterwards I’ll give you a note saying you attended a service and you can use it to get out of a ticket. Where do they draw the line on what a religious service is and who can write you a letter saying you attended one?

  • Hitch

    Well if we get the same privileges outside of secular humanist meetings. Or any social meeting of any organised group, then I don’t think there is an issue.

  • Freddy

    So, does that mean I can get out of paying my parking ticket if I was busy seeing a psychic?

  • T Ray

    It seems more like an admission of lack of foresight by city planners. I’m far less offended than I thought I would be (based on the headline.) I have lost a little respect for Canada though.

    If someone wants to defend this statute with a retarded reverence to superstitious practices I will be more than happy to be offended and vociferous.

  • Scootah

    Surely this should apply to all student parking in the vicinity of a classrooms.

    I think most lecturers would be happy to write a short note as the relevant holy person.

  • Matto the Hun

    I don’t know if it is official but a similar thing happens in downtown Atlanta. I live across the street from a church. Every Sunday the street is clogged on both sides by church goes parking their cars where there normally is not parking. Basically you have cars blocking part of both lanes, so it becomes a bit close when there are two vehicles driving towards each other on the road (especially if just one church goer does a shitty parking job)

    They take advantage of the situation too. After church services are over they leisurely spend their day in town leaving their car parked where it would normally be illegal to park.

    I don’t see why they can’t get a damn parking lot. If I’m not mistaken a church just a block down the street has one. Either that or cut a deal with one of the for-pay-parking lots.

  • Zoe

    All you need is a letter from a Holy Man. I don’t believe there are certain requirements or standards Holy Men have to adhere to – other than that they’ve gotta be men! So, anybody can write a letter for anybody else and a social gather is quickly reclassified as a worship service. All ye Canadians do that and watch how quickly the consideration will be scrapped 🙂

  • Peregrine

    Who gives out parking tickets on a Sunday anyway?

  • Freddy

    I had to do up an image on this one. Some of the items in it might only make sense to Canadians. View the 10 reasons besides attending church that I should be able to get out of my parking ticket in Toronto.

  • Julia

    It just says you need a copy of the bulletin, it doesn’t say you have to attend the service. Walk in, pick up a bulletin, walk out and go shopping!

  • Chelsea

    “It’s Canada, so someone else can let us know whether that’s legal or not, but it certainly privileges people of faith.”

    As a Canadian, I do believe this is legal, sadly. Canada has no official legislation about separation of church and state, so I guess the local Torontonian government ca legally get away with favoring the religious in this way.

    Even though we don’t have a separation of church and state law, however, we don’t usually have a lot of problems with that here for some reason (no crazy Texans?). It always bums me out when stuff like this does happen though, like when the government had a “prayer breakfast” this year. Lame. :/

  • Nakor

    Chelsea is quite right about the legal end of things.

    Zoe makes a good point too though. Can a Pastafarian Pastor (a Pastapastor?) qualify as a holy man to give us consideration to park for our worship at the local Italian restaurant?

  • Richard P.

    “Who gives out parking tickets on a Sunday anyway?”

    You really don’t live in Canada do you…
    Impark give tickets from hell. They are the parking Nazis. And they don’t give a shit if your in church or not when your on one of their lots.

    In Saskatoon the city doesn’t give tickets out on Sunday, but you will get a ticket any other day of the week, church or not.
    Can’t speak for Toronto, but who wants to go to Toronto anyways??

  • Gafaso

    I don’t know, it sounds like unequal treatment under the law.

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

    15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

  • The church of St. Arbucks counts doesn’t it? The “holy man” can be a barrista can’t they?

  • cypressgreen

    @Freddy…you’re right…I don’t get it all…but LOVE the list! Thanks for posting that!

  • Matt

    So… Belong to one religion that worships on Monday. One for Tuesday. One for Wednesday. Etc.

  • @Freddy that was awesome! 1 and 7 are where the Americans might get lost!

    I am in law and I know that if the religion one was challenged in court, it would be overturned fast. In general, if you go to court and fight a ticket, you can get out of it relatively easily. This list is just what city councillors will use so that people can just avoid going to court. I will see about writing a letter about this to the city. That being said, this is the city in the mayoral race where the candidates have invited god back into City Hall (previous post here). So who knows!

  • Jude

    As a Canadian I’m disappointed that I can no longer be self-righteous about not being one of you crazy superstitious Yanks. 😀

    At least I can still be self-righteous about not being one of those crazy superstitious Torontonians.

    My sphere of self-righteousness is diminishing by the minute 🙁

  • When I park outside a church with my “I am an Atheist – Do you have any questions for me?’ sign, I continually get sited for parking violations by the police. I thought that maybe it had something to do with my message, but ‘nope’, there’s a new religious obsession, and that’s atheist ‘parking safety’.

    Read my blog at

  • Peregrine

    Richard P. Says:
    You really don’t live in Canada do you…

    I’ve lived in New Brunswick pretty much my entire life. And yes, I was aware that things may well be done differently in Toronto when I made the joke. I was also aware that religious services may also be held on days other than Sunday.

  • JT

    @ Not Guilty
    Admittedly whenever a Canadian starts talking about something and I don’t understand, I just assume it has something to do with hockey. And I was half right this time. Yay for stereotypes!

  • Owl700

    I wonder if some of these laws are just left-overs from some of the strange bylaws that are still on the books, but not quite the worth the effort to change. In Toronto,it is illegal to have your bathwater at more than 70 degrees F,you can’t drag your dead horse down Young Street on a Sunday, nor may you release 10 or more helium balloons within 24 hours.
    In Calgary,if you are released from prison, it is required that you are given a handgun with bullets and a horse, so you can ride out of town.

  • Owl700

    Oh, and just for you, Peregrine:
    In Hartland New Brunswick you are not allowed to make jokes about people with mustaches. Unless that person or persons first name begins with the letter “A” and last name begins with the letter “N”.

    Cheers, eh!

  • Thiago

    That’s not surprising.. We have all sorts of excuses to not pay the tix… I was once assited by the cop who gave us the ticket on how to sucessfully protest on cort.. and I have to admit, we’ve done as he said and didn’t have to pay..

  • Lynaka

    “I’m far less offended than I thought I would be (based on the headline.) I have lost a little respect for Canada though.”

    Yes, thank you for assuming that Toronto is the be-all of Canada. One large city in the east does not a country make.

    Many cities have old by-laws on their books that make absolutely no sense today. As a Canadian this story doesn’t even bother me because no sane person would uphold it here. It has no weight.

  • Veritas

    I’m going to email Bobby Henderson right now and ask for a note excusing me from parking fines.

  • Scott

    As an atheist and a Torontonian, it doesn’t bother me that religious types can get free parking for their worship. Unofficial exceptions are made for lots of community-type events and I guess worship counts. No big deal unless one wishes to argue against subsidizing automobiles. I do want to argue, but I digress.

    What does get under my skin is the unnecessary bureacracy that must be in place to 1) establish the exemption policy and 2) process the exemptions. Especially given my experience in downtown Toronto, where police just ignore parking infractions on Sunday morning.

    Annoying yes, but I don’t care enough about such a minor thing to give it much thought. I guess I will just have to wait for an Atheist politician to hold a city-wide debate about the merits of this exemption.

    … maybe I won’t hold my breath.

  • @JT excellent deduction! Though Alan Thicke isn’t a hockey player. Well, I’m sure he played at one point in his life, but that isn’t why he’s “famous”

    @Owl700 this has nothing to do with a law. It is merely one of a list of unofficial exemptions that city councillors will grant to people who get a parking ticket. The others, such as if they live 100km away and make a silly mistake, are really just a courtesy. But obviously I don’t appreciate that one of the courtesy exceptions is granted to religious people who think it’s okay to park where they please.

  • False Prophet

    You can also get out of a ticket if you’re “confused”. Well, I’m always confused anytime I have to go into Toronto (e.g., why does our biggest city have North America’s crappiest subway system?). I avoid those times, because Toronto Sucks.

    (Of course, that song is by guys from Edmonton, Canada’s dullest city.)

  • This blasphemy against Toronto is going to see you all in hell! Other wise known as Calgary, Alberta, the Texas of Canada.

  • Gauldar


    Great list! I agree, there is no way you can talk to Christopher Hitchens without ending up with a Scotch in you hand within 5 minutes into the conversation with him.

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