The city plans to take aggressive action when it comes to collecting the $3 million it is owed in unpaid parking tickets.
Coun. Sharon Bryce not only supports increasing parking ticket fines, but making sure violators pay up.
“It’s a totally avoidable fee that we have,” she said. “If someone is parking illegally? I think they should be fined.”
She said too many people are choosing to get a parking ticket rather than pay for parking.
Bryce believes illegal parking is a big problem in the city.
“They are taking up spots that customers going in and out of downtown businesses (would use) or around the hospital or in front of someone’s home,” she said. “It’s something that I think, annoys people. We have bylaws in place to avoid those sorts of things, so we need to have fines that are appropriate.”
Although she hopes increased fines will deter people from parking illegally, she said the city is also focused on getting its $3 million.
The first round of letters have gone out to all those with unpaid tickets. However, Bryce said the city has a lot of options to get violators to pay up.
She said the city can place a lien on a vehicle, seize it, tow it and even sell it.
Bryce said the top offender owes the city $30,000 in unpaid parking tickets.
“That person better have a really nice vehicle,” she said.
Bryce said the violators can avoid all the hassle just by calling the city and making payment arrangements. Mayor Michael Fougere believes another possible alternative would be to approach SGI and see if it would consider working with the city to help collect the fines.
“The notion to administration to talk to SGI about, ‘You know if you don’t pay your parking bills, then maybe you shouldn’t get your licence’ is probably not a bad place to start,” he said. “This is a lot of money. It’s really difficult to get that money back.”
He said the increase in fines will also help the city generate revenue, but added, the city hasn’t updated its rates for quite some time.
“It’s just an average increase in what we see in other cities,” said Fougere. “We just see it as a way to do business.”
Also on Monday’s agenda was affordable housing and the vacancy rate.
Council agreed to sell some of its land to Silver Sage Inc. and Habitat for Humanity for new builds.
The city also agreed to increase the vacancy threshold from two per cent up to three per cent.
“I think to have a fair and balanced market, a threeper-cent vacancy rate was the way to go,” said Fougere. “We have had an awful lot of apartments being built. We have 1,000 units being approved or under construction in 2013, so that’s an awful lot coming into the market. So again to be fair and reasonable and not have any bumps in the process, we thought, three per cent was the way to go.”
He said until the city passes its three-per-cent vacancy rate threshold applications to convert apartments into condominiums will not be approved.
Fougere said nothing is ever permanent and that the city will continue to review its policies to make sure they are always fair and balanced.