Toronto Targets Out-of-Province Vehicles/Driver’s for Unpaid Toronto Parking Tickets

Update: see previous posts – February 1, 2010 Toronto wants to Rake in Millions from Motorists, April 18, 2009 Parking Tickets issued to non-residents of Ontario cannot be collected by the City of Toronto see source

City of Toront's TPS Parking Enforcement Officer issuing a parking ticket. If the vehicle is from another Province or U.S. State, most vehicle owners will not pay the parking fine. As of 2009, more than half of out-of-province parking violators were from Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, New York, Michigan and Florida.

The City of Toronto’s Auditor General, Mr. Jeffrey Griffiths, C.A., C.F.E. made a number of recommendations to the City of Toronto’s City Council with respect to Toronto’s 2010 Operating Budget .

He informed the City that revenue is lost for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons there is a short fall in revenue, is due to parking tickets being issued to out-of-province motor vehicles, who don’t pay the associated parking fines.

The City of  Toronto cancels parking tags issued to out-of-province vehicles because owner address information is not available. In 2008, the City cancelled 93,000 tags exceeding $4 million for vehicles registered outside of Ontario. On average, 85 per cent of parking tags issued to out-of-province vehicles remain unpaid and are subsequently cancelled. This is a long outstanding issue at the City of Toronto. If reciprocal agreements do not exist with other Provinces and Territories and States, the free exchange of information (relating to the registered owner and his/her residential address) cannot take place and attempts to collect on unpaid parking tickets is futile and unproductive.In 2007, in an effort to collect parking tags issued to out-of-province vehicles, the City initiated a pilot project with several American states including New York, Pennsylvania, Maine and Ohio. The pilot project provided for an exchange of vehicle-owner address information. In 2008, City management determined that the project was not cost effective due to the significant administrative work and cost in collecting the necessary information.

In April 2009, Council approved the discontinuation of the out-of-province parking ticket collection process because the cost of the program exceeded revenues realized. Council also approved that the Province of Ontario be requested to continue negotiation of data transfer and data exchange agreements by the Province of Ontario with other provincial and state governments as this remains an effective and viable option. The report tabled in November 2009 indicates that the City will continue to work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Big 12 Police Services Boards in Canada in order to secure support for data-exchange agreements with other jurisdictions.

What the Auditor’s report stated “if the City were able to recover 25 per cent of out-of-province tags a further $1 million in revenue would be possible.” While we support these initiatives, the City should also consider reviewing best practices in other organizations including the collection methods used by 407 International Inc., the company that manages the operation of the 407 Highway in connection with out-of-province road toll charges. During our discussions with management of 407 International Inc., we were advised that 407 International Inc. has entered into various agreements with organizations such as the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators in Canada and in the United States with various vehicle licensing authorities to obtain vehicle-owner address information. 407 International Inc. uses this information to mail toll charge fees to out-of-province drivers. We have not been able to determine the success rate of this initiative as this information is not available to the public. 407 International Inc. has an arrangement with the Ministry of Transportation to share registered plate owner information with collection agencies for collecting outstanding road toll charges. The City does not have such an agreement with the Ministry.

The City of Toronto is trying another approach to attempt to have those who have violated the parking rules to pay the associated parking fines.

In addition, we were further advised that 407 International Inc. uses collection agencies to collect revenue for out-of-province vehicles. The minimum threshold for the collection of revenue is $30, which is in the range of the City’s average parking tag amount.”

The city government, like Ontario’s other municipalities, has no way to pursue out-of-province ignorers of parking rules. And the rule-ignorers know it: about 90 per cent of them decline to pay their Toronto tickets.

Their impunity costs the city more than $3 million per year. Following the lead of the for-profit 407 toll highway, cash-strapped Toronto is now attempting to lay down the law.

If the price is right, the parking department will hire a company to find the home addresses of out-of-province scofflaws beginning in the fall. That will allow a collections agency to pester them. “This is more about bringing fairness into the system than the money,” said manager of parking operations Anthony Fabrizi.

The city issued about 2.8 million parking tickets in 2010. It collected on about 80 per cent of them. But of about 115,000 tickets issued to people with out-of-province plates, only about 11,500 were paid — a 10 per cent collection rate.

When Ontario drivers are ticketed, the provincial government sends the city their home addresses within a day. But when out-of-province drivers are ticketed, the city has no access to their addresses. With no real prospect of collection, it usually has to cancel the ticket. The problem is not specific to Toronto, or to parking tickets. The Ontario government loses millions every year to out-of-province speeding ticket scofflaws.

Fabrizi said he believes using outside companies to collect address information has been successful for the 407 ETR. But he’s not certain of its success in Toronto. The city is seeking to sign only a one-year contract with a company, with an option to renew for additional years if all goes well. “We’re testing the waters with this model,” he said. “Conceivably we can get all of this information and then nobody pays us.”

As of 2009, more than half of out-of-province parking violators were from Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, New York, Michigan and Florida.


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