Tickets as a Revenue Source

Source of Revenue:

The Province of Ontario and the municipalities and cities within it, generate millions of dollars every year from motorists who voluntarily pay fines associated with alleged violations of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and different Code/Bylaw violations within Municipalities and Cities.

Why do the City of Toronto and other cities in Ontario issue so many tickets for various parking by-law violations?

The City will tell you that the fines, associated with the alleged parking by-law violations, are there to help ensure smooth traffic flow and to serve as a deterrent to those who ignore the by-laws.  You will never be told that without the revenue generated by the fines related to traffic, some Cities would have to operate with a deficit budget.

In the City of Toronto, approximately 2.8 million tickets are issued each year and the City collects the fines associated with almost 82 % of all tickets issued, representing annual revenues of approximately $80 Million.

Does the City of Toronto and the other Cities in Ontario want the recipient of the parking ticket to have his/her day in court to dispute the Ticket/fine?

No.  The City would prefer that you just pay your fine, contributing to the Revenue of the City.  In the City of Toronto, obstacles have been erected in order to dissuade or discourage recipients of tickets from challenging the ticket(s) received, through the Courts.  These barriers to Justice have been designed to frustrate the parking ticket recipient from seeking a trial date and serve to encourage those receiving the tickets to pay them, quickly.

At one time in Toronto, you could simply sign your ticket (pleading not guilty and requesting a Trial) and send it in and await your Notice of Trial in the mail.  Now you are forced to go to one of several locations and line-up and request a trial in Person (the mailing option has been eliminated and is no longer available).

The other option which was readily available to those motorists who received tickets, was to request a trial at night (referred to as “Night Court”) and simply show up, after work and argue your case in front of a Justice of the Peace.  As of July 3, 2008 the option to have a trial at Night Court (located at the Old City Hall in Toronto) was discontinued, thus eliminating the opportunity for working people to attend Court after work to challenge their ticket(s).  This now forces people to choose between taking the entire day off of work or several hours off, to proceed to Court, during the day, to challenge your ticket(s) on the hope of being successful.

In March, 2005 the City of  Toronto announced that they had developed a new 24 hours, 7 days a week online parking ticket payment system (in addition to the already  established ability to pay parking tickets over the phone, at most banks or by mail) wherein one could pay the parking ticket fines at the City of Toronto’s website.  Resources were dedicated to this initiative to instantly collect revenue.

Why hasn’t the same City created an online service, which also operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which would allow motorists who received tickets, to request a trial and receive a date and time for one?  The City created on online service to pay tickets in the year 2005, and the City has had plenty of time since to improve their technology and to facilitate the public’s right to justice via the Courts.  This would allow an individual to avoid the long line-ups, the wait times, the frustration and time off of work.

In 2006, (a year after the City made an investment into an online parking ticket payment system) the City made another major technological investment when they introduced a computerized hand held system to generate parking tickets instantly.  This investment in computerized technology also demanded that Police Officers and parking Enforcement Officers required costly training to properly use this device to generate as many parking infraction notices (also known as “parking tickets”) as could be printed in a single day.  No investment, however, was made to accommodate those motorists who wanted to plead not guilty and to have a trial or to make the system more efficient and accessible to those who could not afford to be absent from work.

The decision of the City of Toronto to implement the changes referred to above, does not lead one to believe that City recognizes and acknowledges one’s right to challenge a ticket and to receive Access to Justice. These actions demonstrate that recipients of traffic tickets are being discouraged and dissuaded from exercising their fundamental right to challenge the parking ticket(s) in Court.

It would be difficult to imagine that the City of Toronto is not aware of how its’ actions affect those who visit and live in the City.  Erecting barriers to Justice, in an effort to generate additional revenue for the City coffers, should always discouraged and persistently frowned upon.

The City has 80 million reasons why they don’t want you to have your day in Court, where there is a good possibility your ticket may be thrown out or where you will not have to pay the fine.

See parking infractions in Ontario.

Update: June 18, 2009: Fraud at Parking Meters doubles after a 10 million upgrade to thwart fraud at parking meters.

Update: February 5, 2010: As of December 2008, City of Toronto books showed about $103 million in unpaid fines.