The City of Toronto Considers Introducing a $12.75 Surcharge on Parking Tickets`

Update:  See previous post – June 13, 2011 City of Toronto Parking Tickets Can be Disputed Online as of September, 2011

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Torontonians thought that upon being elected in October 2010, the newly elected Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford stated that the “war on car” was over;  is it?

The City of Toronto’s government management committee may want to re-introduce that war again; this time in the form of punitive surcharges for parking tickets.

The City of Toronto’s Treasurer and City Solictor prepared a report called “Implementation of a Fixed Fine System for Parking Tickets” on the issues described in this story. This report (below) states:

“Given that consumer behaviour and court outcomes cannot be predicted, it is difficult to estimate potential savings in reduced court operation costs or offset revenues that will result from the introduction of a fixed fine system.  Typically, one court dedicated to parking ticket disputes has the capacity to handle approximately 30,000 trial requests per year, with annual operating costs of approximately $1 million per courtroom.”

Paul Ainslie, City Councillor, Ward 43 Scarborough East is the City of Toronto's Government Management Committee Chair, who favours jacking up the price of a parking ticket for those bold enough to fight it and lose.

The government management committee chair, Ward 43, Scarbourgh East City Councillor Paul Ainslie, believes that the $12.75 surcharge (applied to those motorists who dare to challenge their parking ticket in court and lose) will deter motorists who show up to court and hope to win, either through arguments before the Justice of the Peace or when a parking enforcement officer or police officer doesn’t show up as a witness and the ticket is withdrawn, due to lack of evidence. Scarborough East City Councillor Paul Ainslie believes that motorists who dare to challenge their parking tickets in the courts are responsible for clogging up the Ontario Provincial Courts.

P Parking Machine with Parking Enforcement Officer ready to ticket vehicles
"P" Parking Pay and Display Parking Ticket Machine with Parking Enforcement Officer observing parked vehicles & ready to ticket any vehicle without a valid tag

From potholes to large “surcharges”, but are Ainslie’s new expensive ways to penalize motorists fair or justified?

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people.

Toronto parking enforcement officers and police officers, along with some private companies that issue parking ticket issued about 2.8 million parking tickets in 2010. In 2010, about 11% (about 307,000) of the motorists who received parking tickets, decided to fill out a NOTICE OF INTENTION TO APPEAR commonly referred to as a Form 7 or application for a trial.  Less than half of the 307,000 motorists who requested a trial showed up on the trial date. Out of the under 150,000 motorists who actually showed up, only 11,000 (or 4 %) actually had their tickets dismissed at their parking ticket trial.

Most motorists who take the time and effort to apply for and show up for a trial related to their parking tickets find that the monetary fine is cut in half and that additional time is provided to pay the fine.

Many motorists who work during the day (ie-8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m) for a living, simply cannot afford, upon receiving a parking ticket, to take time off to go to a court office and request a trial date or to take time off to present themselves for a trial, which are only conducted during working hours in Toronto.

At one time in Toronto, you could simply sign your ticket (pleading not guilty and requesting a Trial – either night court or day court) and send it in and await your Notice of Trial in the mail.  Now you are forced to go (between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.) 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” normally at 7 p.m.) 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 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 addition to introducing the new “you lost or didn’t show-up” surcharge, the City is reviewing the possibility of reducing the fine for parking illegally in an accessible parking spot.  The City is recommending reducing the set fine amount for accessible parking offences
(previously referred to as disabled parking offences), from $450.00 to $300.00, which is the minimum fine which the City of Toronto Act, 2006 requires for that offence.

Businesses, including couriers, Canada Post Corporation and soft drink firms doing deliveries, account for one-third of all parking tickets. Of those, two-thirds are from the same 20 companies.

One-quarter of all trial requests in 2010 came from “entities” that each submitted more than 50 trial requests, suggesting “a small group of entities (likely large firms with many vehicles) routinely request trials for all or a large proportion of the tickets they receive.”

It is doubtful that the City will actually implement these measures, given the ramifications.

Mayor Ford disagrees with placing a $12.75 surcharge on those who contest their tickets and disagrees with lowering the fine from $450 to $300 for motorists parking in accessible parking spaces in the city – he would like to see the fine raised and have these vehicles towed.

Tracking Status
  • This item was considered by Government Management Committee on June 28, 2011. The Government Management Committee postponed consideration of this item. Check the text of the decision for the conditions of the postponement.
Government Management Committee consideration on June 28, 2011
GM5.6ACTION Deferred Ward:All
Implementation of a Fixed Fine System for Parking Tickets
Committee Decision
Caution: This is a preliminary decision. This decision should not be considered final until the meeting is complete and the City Clerk has confirmed the decisions for this meeting.

The Government Management Committee:

 

1.         Deferred consideration of the item until its meeting on September 15, 2011.

 

2.         Requested the Treasurer and the City Solicitor to report to the September 15, 2011 meeting on a more detailed range of options for dealing with parking ticket recipients who request a trial and fail to appear in court.

Origin
(June 13, 2011) Report from the Treasurer and the City Solicitor
Summary

This report recommends the introduction of a Fixed Fine system for parking offences (excluding accessible/disabled parking offences).  A fixed fine system will help to optimize the use of the City’s courts by reducing the number of trials that must be scheduled for parking ticket recipients who request a trial but who do not intend to dispute the charge and hope simply to obtain a reduced fine amount, or who request a trial in hope that the issuing officer will not attend court and the charges will be withdrawn.  Making more efficient use of the available court capacity for parking tickets will in turn reduce the time to trial for parking ticket recipients who wish to have a trial.

 

A fixed fine will apply where a parking ticket recipient requests a trial, and the trial results in a conviction, (i.e., the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial).  Fixed fine amounts would be $12.75 higher than the existing set fine amount that appears on the face of the ticket.  The fixed fine amount parallels the existing structure set out in the Provincial Offences Act that allows $12.75 in court costs to be added to a parking ticket fine where a trial has been requested and the defendant fails to appear in court.  Where a parking ticket recipient requests a trial and is found not guilty, no fine is imposed.

 

This report also recommends reducing the set fine amount for accessible parking offences (previously referred to as disabled parking offences), from $450.00 to $300.00, which is the minimum fine which the City of Toronto Act, 2006 requires for that offence.

Financial Impact

By reducing the number of trial requests made by parking ticket recipients who request a trial only to obtain a reduced fine or in the hope that the issuing officer will not attend court, the costs incurred by the City associated with such trial requests will be reduced, and the court capacity to hear and resolve other parking ticket disputes will be increased.

 

Given that consumer behaviour and court outcomes cannot be predicted, it is difficult to estimate potential savings in reduced court operation costs or offset revenues that will result from the introduction of a fixed fine system.  Typically, one court dedicated to parking ticket disputes has the capacity to handle approximately 30,000 trial requests per year, with annual operating costs of approximately $1 million per courtroom.

 

Reductions in the number of trial requests will help to free up court capacity to hear parking ticket trials and trials for other more serious traffic offences in a timely manner, which will in turn result in fewer parking ticket disputes that may be stayed or withdrawn due to the length of time that has elapsed since the ticket was issued.

 

The Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer has reviewed this report and agrees with the financial impact information.

Background Information
(June 13, 2011) Staff Report – Implementation of a Fixed Fine System for Parking Tickets
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2011/gm/bgrd/backgroundfile-39106.pdf)
Communications
(June 27, 2011) E-mail from David Mitchelson (GM.New.GM5.6.1)
(June 28, 2011) Submission from Josef Kates (GM.New.GM5.6.2)
Speakers
Josef Kates

Here is what the City is relying upon:

STAFF REPORT
ACTION REQUIRED
Implementation of a Fixed Fine System for Parking
Tickets
Date:     June 13, 2011
To:     Government Management Committee
From:     Treasurer and City Solicitor
Wards:     All
Reference     P:\2011\Internal Services\rev\gm11010rev (AFS 13363)
Number:

SUMMARY

This report recommends the introduction of a Fixed Fine system for parking offences (excluding accessible/disabled parking offences). A fixed fine system will help to optimize the use of the City’s courts by reducing the number of trials that must be
scheduled for parking ticket recipients who request a trial but who do not intend to dispute the charge and hope simply to obtain a reduced fine amount, or who request a trial in hope that the issuing officer will not attend court and the charges will be
withdrawn. Making more efficient use of the available court capacity for parking tickets will in turn reduce the time to trial for parking ticket recipients who wish to have a trial.

A fixed fine will apply where a parking ticket recipient requests a trial, and the trial results in a conviction, (i.e., the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial).

Fixed fine amounts would be $12.75 higher than the existing set fine amount that appears on the face of the ticket. The fixed fine amount parallels the existing structure set out in the Provincial Offences Act that allows $12.75 in court costs to be added to a parking ticket fine where a trial has been requested and the defendant fails to appear in court.

Where a parking ticket recipient requests a trial and is found not guilty, no fine is imposed. This report also recommends reducing the set fine amount for accessible parking offences (previously referred to as disabled parking offences), from $450.00 to $300.00, which is the minimum fine which the City of Toronto Act, 2006 requires for that offence.

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