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The question is specifically about a situation in Canada (province Ontario, city of Toronto), but other common law country view would be useful.

Suppose there is a municipal bylaw that prohibits parking on a certain street "between the point X meters south of [some intersection] and the point Y meters further south". Apparently its intent is to prevent blocking access to a series of townhouses at that location (though why it needs a special treatment remains unclear, as other laws exist to prevent blocking such access anyway). There are two "no parking" signs that apparently serve to inform you of that bylaw, but they are not placed X meters south of [some intersection] and Y meters further south; the distance between them is unnecessarily larger. I say unnecessarily because the first sign is closer than X to the intersection, in a spot where, if a car were parked, it would not block anything. See the diagram (rotated, so south is to the left):

enter image description here

In other words, the placement of "no parking signs" does not correspond to what the bylaw says, and parking a car where shown would not violate any other rules (blocking access, in front of a fire hydrant etc.)

Would it be a valid defence to say that, since the signs do not reflect the bylaw, and no other laws were violated, the car was parked legally and the issued ticket ("park prohibited day/time") is not valid? Or can the signs overrule the bylaw?

There is a somewhat related question but the situation is opposite -- what's posted does not match the bylaw.

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  • Does the bylaw say where at the intersection to start measuring? The centerline of the cross-street? A survey/control point? The corner? Maybe the extra space is to provide a better sightline for someone pulling out of the driveways.
    – mkennedy
    Jan 22 at 16:56
  • No it does not; it says "X meters from [street name]".
    – mustaccio
    Jan 22 at 17:27
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    Your provincial or municipal traffic law and regulations may contain directives requiring you to follow traffic signs.
    – xngtng
    Jan 22 at 17:51
  • That may be true, but I was unable to find any text to that effect neither in the provincial traffic act nor in the parking bylaw.
    – mustaccio
    Jan 22 at 18:04
  • Which province?
    – xngtng
    Jan 22 at 18:34
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Assuming the signs are properly placed by the municipality or other legal authority,

Would it be a valid defence to say that, since the signs do not reflect the bylaw, and no other laws were violated, the car was parked legally and the issued ticket ("park prohibited day/time") is not valid?

If the ticket is issued soley on the specific bylaw section, it might be a defence (with proper documentations on the distance etc.). As the comment pointed out, how the distance is measured exactly also matters.

But in many jurisdictions, you may be required to follow posted signs.

Or can the signs overrule the bylaw?

If there is a contradiction, in general the signs matter more. But anyway, in your case there is no contradiction between the bylaw and the signs; the signs are simply more restrictive, they don't render following both impossible. There is no overruling, simply more rules (if your jurisdiction requires you to follow posted signs).


Example: Alberta

In Alberta, you are legally required to presume a sign ("traffic control device") is legally erected, unless you have really good proof that it isn't.

Traffic control device

164(1) In any proceeding under this Act or a bylaw, the existence of a traffic control device is proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the device was properly designated and erected by the proper authority without other or further proof.

Traffic Safety Act

The regulations under the TSA require all drivers to follow traffic control devices, absent contrary directions from a peace officer

57 A person driving a vehicle shall obey the instructions set out on or by any applicable traffic control device.

58 Notwithstanding anything in Part 1 or this Part, a person driving a vehicle shall obey the directions given by any peace officer directing traffic.

Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation

It is an offence to disobey traffic control devices otherwise.


In Ontario specifically, the Highway Traffic Act provides

Regulations, signs and markings

182 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations requiring or providing for the erection of signs and the placing of markings on any highway or any type or class thereof, and prescribing the types of the signs and markings and the location on the highway of each type of sign and marking and prohibiting the use or erection of any sign or type of sign that is not prescribed.

Signs to be obeyed

(2) Every driver or operator of a vehicle or street car shall obey the instructions or directions indicated on any sign so erected.

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I can now answer my own question with anecdotal evidence. I was able to successfully argue (in an administrative penalty tribunal, not a proper trial though) that the by-law supersedes posted signs, and my ticket was cancelled as a result. The hearing officer noted that parking enforcement officers typically use actual sign placement as the indication of infraction, but admitted that the by-law itself is what determines infractions, and agreed that in these circumstances it should prevail.

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Parking laws are very much a matter of local municipal law. There does not appear to be a general rule mandating signage on a Canada-wide basis.

I examined the parking code of th4e City of Hamilton, Ontario (BY-LAW NO. 01-218) This is some 56 pages long, and some provisions specify signage, and some do not.

For example section (9)(1) provides:

No person shall on any day except a holiday, park a vehicle on any highway or portion of highway listed in schedule 6, for a longer time than indicated therein, during the periods specified therein, provided suitable signs are erected and maintained. (Emphasis added)

However, section 11 (2) provides:

The Council may designate a highway or part highway as a permit parking zone by prohibiting parking on the said highway or part highway except by valid permit under the provisions of this Section, and said highway shall be listed in Schedule 12 of this by-law.

Section 11 (12) provides:

No person shall park a vehicle in a permit parking zone, who is not the eligible applicant to whom a parking permit has been issued and is in force ...

No provision in section 11 mentions any sign to be posted to notify people of the permit requirements. Apparently being listed in the schedule is sufficient.

Section 12 (2) provides:

Subject to subsections (3) and (4), no person shall park any vehicle or permit a vehicle to remain parked on any roadway or shoulder where such parking or stopping is normally permitted except:

... {provisions for parking in the direction of traffic movement}

save and except where suitable signs are erected and maintained indicating that perpendicular or angle parking is required ...

Section 12 (5) has a variety of parking restrictions, including prohibiting parking

12 (5) (c) Within six (6) metres (20 feet) of an entrance to any armouries, drill hall, armouries yard, hospital, theatre, church, hotel, railroad station, bus terminal or other place of assembly, and provided, that except that in the case of an athletic field or fair grounds, this prohibition shall apply only while an assembly is therein, and for one hour immediately preceding and following such assembly; (no sigage requirement listed)

12 (5) (d) Where temporary "No Parking" signs are erected, placed or posted along any highway or part of a highway ...

12 (5) (e) Along that part of any highway which abuts an unfenced playground or unfenced school playground between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. of any day except a Sunday, provided that suitable signs are erected and maintained;

12 (5) (k) (ii) On any boulevard, provided that this shall not prohibit the parking of a vehicle: ... where parking is specifically permitted by an agreement between the City and the owner of the abutting lands or a license granted by the City to the owner of the abutting lands

In short, many of the provisions specify "provided suitable signs are erected and maintained;", and many others do not, often within the same sub-section. I could quote many more examples. There appears to be no general rule that signs are required, it depends on the particular text of the particular provision. I do not know if the courts enforce these bylaws as written, but if there is a general rule requiring a proper sign, it is vary odd that some provisions specify a sign and other adjacent provisions do not. It appears that a sign is not required to make a parking restriction enforceable in Ontario unless a particular provision so specifies.

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  • Thanks, but that's not answering the question I had: in my situation the car was parked according to the bylaw as written but not to the signs intended to inform me of that bylaw, and where the bylaw itself does not stipulate that signs be erected. Basically, in the absence of explicit indication in the books, can signs establish rules that are contrary to the letter of bylaw.
    – mustaccio
    Jan 22 at 18:11
  • @mustaccio Since you haven't indicted teh province and city or town, there is no way to check for specific provisions that would mandate following a sign or other traffic control device not authorized by ordinance. Note however that section 12 (5) (d) above makes temporary signs apply anywhere they are present. A similar provision might well apply to signs generally. I cannot tell. Jan 22 at 18:19

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