Update: see prevous posts – May 30, 2014 Mississauga: Parking Tickets Can No Longer Be Challenged In Court., June 4, 2012 B.C: No More Court Dates Available To Fight Traffic Tickets, January 21, 2012 British Columbia (B.C.): Traffic Offences – Fines and Penalty Points, October 30, 2010 City of Vancouver’s New “By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System” Used for Parking Tickets
Arny Wise stood outside the bylaw-ticket adjudication room complaining the City of Vancouver is putting its thumb on the scales of justice to fill tax coffers.
His firm Apex Dispute Resolution conducts similar hearings in 23 B.C. municipalities and he is incredulous at what he considers Vancouver’s disregard of fundamental legal principles.
When he asked to have a couple of questions answered, the adjudicator told him no one from the city would attend.
“This is supposed to be fair,” Wise said after his 17-year-old daughter’s parking ticket was upheld and he was ordered to pay the $95 fine.
The previous disputant was less sanguine about his loss.
“I’m not going to pay this. It’s purposely confusing to entrap people — this is like a speed trap,” he fulminated while the adjudicator was still delivering his decision.
The man had spent time assembling photographs and evidence to counter a ticket he received on an unsigned stretch of road where parking appeared to be allowed.
“I’m not going to pay this — throw me in jail,” the man barked. “This is ridiculous.”
He stormed out with a dismissive wave of his hand: “Whatever!”
Wise says the ticket adjudication scheme that Vancouver adopted in Feb. 2011 to replace the provincial courts is unfair.
The city and others municipalities opted to set up the administrative processes for simple reasons — it would save money, court resources and increase revenue.
It hasn’t worked and has angered many people.
In Nov. 2010, city manager Penny Ballem produced a report justifying the move saying Vancouver issued about 450,000 parking tickets annually bringing in $16.2 million in net revenue. About 101,000 tickets annually went unpaid, about 20,000 were cancelled by staff and some 16,000 were disputed.
But the old court process only dealt with about 6,000 disputed tickets a year so there was a growing two-and-a-half year backlog.
The outstanding tickets represented about $7-8 million a year in uncollected revenue, staff said, and moving to an administrative rather than court regime would boost revenue.
Expected to cost $238,000 a year to operate, the adjudication system was to increase fine collection by $1.2 million in 2011 and up to $3.66 million this year.
“This revenue increase will grow year-over-year as it is anticipated that payment rate will increase and the dispute rate decrease over time,” the report says. “Current estimates indicate that revenue will increase by $3.66 million by the end of 2014.”
Those numbers appear in hindsight to have been significantly inflated — the city issued over 100,000 fewer tickets last year and is collecting millions less than Ballem projected.
Tobin Postma, city communication manager, said Vancouver issued only 332,000 tickets last year, generating only about $15 million.
Even though it has increased its collection rate by five per cent (about $900,000 annually) under the new system, revenue is way down.
The city pays $20,000 a year to Luke Krayenhoff for adjudication services and has only collected about $500,000 in extra revenue via the new process — nothing close to the millions staff predicted.
“The 2010 numbers were based on historical data that had been continually rising and so the numbers were estimated to maintain this trend, however, it turns out that due to a number of reasons (such as change in traffic patterns to downtown core and more bike trips) the number of tickets have steadily decreased since then,” Postma maintained.