A new policy that went into effect earlier this month will effectively bring an end to the days of utility companies “blocking lanes of traffic during the day for non-emergency work,” Mayor John Tory says.

Tory highlighted the new policy at a press conference in Berczy Park in the city’s St. Lawrence neighbourhood on Wednesday morning.

The policy, which went into effect on March 1, prohibits utility companies or their subcontractors from conducting any planned work on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in an area bounded by Dundas Street to the north, Lake Shore Boulevard/Harbour Street to the south, Bathurst Street to the west and Jarvis Street to the east.

The policy also states that work outside the above mentioned area can only be completed in lanes in the off-peak direction and must be approved by city staff.

There is one exception for curb lanes where parking is allowed, however work in those lanes will only be allowed between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

“I think every Torontonian has been frustrated by the fact that at all hours of the day they can suddenly come upon a utility truck doing work which in many, many cases is not emergency work,” Tory said. “I think a lot of the reason that this happened is the old city policy which gave blanket permits in effect to these companies so they could do the work at any time it suited them to do so and in many cases that manifested itself in trucks and crews being on busy streets in middle lanes blocking traffic.”

Tory said that the new policy is the product of “extensive consultations” that have been conducted with utility companies over the last several months.

He said that he personally met with representatives from major utility companies in November to inform them that “things were going to change” but also wanted to recognize that there is some work of an urgent nature that simply must be done.

“In simple terms unless there is a genuine emergency we will see far fewer of those trucks and crews representing those different utilities blocking a middle lane in busy traffic,” he said.

Tory said that staff will be monitoring compliance with the new policy and will take enforcement action if necessary.