National News

Meet Ottawa's most lucrative fire hydrant

By Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - There's a fire hydrant in the national capital that spouts cash.

Tucked away on a side street of Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood is a hydrant that's responsible for more parking fines than any other in the city.

The little yellow fireplug on Beech St. between Preston St. and Rochester St. has netted the city more than $65,000 since 2008.

A Canadian Press analysis of Ottawa's parking-ticket data, obtained through a freedom-of-information request, found that the Beech St. hydrant is the city's biggest money maker. More than 1,100 tickets have been handed out at that spot.

So why is this one hydrant such a cash cow for the city?

A couple of bylaw officers out on a recent patrol think it's because the white lines painted on the road on either side of the hydrant make it look like a parking space when it isn't. The lines are actually there to show people where they can't park.

The bylaw officers, who didn't want to give their names because they weren't authorized to speak publicly, say there's almost always someone parked in front of the hydrant, even when the rest of the street is completely empty.

Sure enough, during a recent noon visit, a car was parked there.

There are actually two hydrants on this stretch of road, but the bylaw officers were positive the one midway between Preston and Rochester streets is to blame for all the parking tickets.

It's in a prime location, just steps away from Little Italy's main thoroughfare with all its busy shops, restaurants and pubs.

The spot's proximity to a paid parking lot also makes it an attractive option to drivers who would prefer to park on the street, where it's pay-and-display.

No one from the city was available for an interview.

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