On November 4, 2010 @9:30 a.m. City of Vancouver’s City Council will pass a report which will dramatically change the current system in place to challenge parking tickets. If this new system is passed, it is expected to be implemented in February, 2011.
The new system will effectively remove the parking tickets from the Provincial Court’s and challenges to parking tickets would no longer be heard in the courts, they would now only be heard in adjudication by a Provincially appointed Adjudicator. This will reduce the current waiting time of two and a half years down to two and a half months.
There will be considerable differences between the Court system and the new Adjudication system:
- You would no longer have 4 months (120 days) to decide to go to court, under the new system you would now only have 14 days (106 days less). If within 14 days you do not take the steps to challenge your ticket, you will be convicted and expected to pay the fine. If you do not pay, the City will send out your fine to a collection agency.
- Currently, the City allows 34 days for an individual receiving a parking ticket to pay it, at a discounted rate. Under the new system, the only way to receive the discount rate, is to pay the fine within 14 days (20 days less than the current system).
- Currently, a judge in court will consider all of the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the parking ticket and the history of each of the defendant’s receiving the parking ticket and may impose a fine within the minimum and maximum amounts permitted by the by-law in question. Under the new system, the adjudicator may only determine whether or not a by-law contravention occurred as alleged. They cannot reduce or increase the penalty amount.
- Currently, in order to challenge a parking ticket, you must show up in person to contest it or have an agent show up to contest it on your behalf. Under the new system a screening officer would conduct an initial review (who has the authority to either confirm the ticket or to cancel it). If the ticket is confirmed (which suggests it is a legitimate ticket without any apparent flaws) then it is moved to the next stage, where a hearing is conducted by an independent, Provincially appointed Adjudicator. The adjudicator would hear the dispute with the person charged being present (or by his/her agent), or by phone or in writing (including e-mail). This style of hearing is a huge departure from the court process where the defendant and/or his/her agent must show up in person to contest the ticket.
This is what the process would look like:
Parking Ticket Received ——-You ignore it——-the City sends to a Collection Agency.
You Dispute it– A Screening Officer Reviews it and cancels it (and its over) or doesn’t cancel it, he/she confirms it and the process continues.
You either pay it (and its over) or you don’t pay it.
You don’t pay it and it is sent to an “Adjudication Hearing” – (this process is predicted to only take two and a half months from beginning to end) the Independant Adjudicator hears it and either cancels the ticket or doesn’t cancel it. If the ticket is not cancelled, you will have to pay the fine, plus an additional $25 adjudication fee (see Part 3 — Bylaw Notice Dispute Adjudication – Cost and administration of dispute adjudication system – 23 (1) A local government that establishes a bylaw notice dispute adjudication system is responsible for – (2) A local government may provide for a fee of not more than $25 payable by a person who is unsuccessful in a dispute adjudication, in relation to a by-law notice or a compliance agreement, for the purpose of recovering the costs of the adjudication system.) on top of it. If you don’t pay it, the City sends it to a Collection Agency and relies on this legislation to collect the fine and $25 fee: Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act – Bylaw Notice Enforcement Regulation.
These are the events which have convinced the City of Vancouver to take parking tickets out the the Provincial Court venue and place them in the Adjudication process:
In 2009, the City of Vancouver’s City Council, directed the City Manager to undertake a comprehensive strategic review of its businesses, service delivery practices and operations.
Currently, the City of Vancouver uses a court-based model where disputed parking by-law infractions are dealt with in the Provincial Court system. The Province has informed the City of Vancouver that it is no longer willing to provide the City court resources to pursue non-complex parking by-law infractions through the court process.
The City of Vancouver issues almost half a million (450,000) parking tickets annually.
Approximately 76% of parking tickets are paid. However, the remaining 24% (approximately 101,000 tickets) are not paid. The City of Vancouver must prosecute these remaining individuals in Provincial Court to obtain a fine or a court order for compliance. This enforcement process is governed by the Offence Act.
In 2009, out of the 101,000 outstanding parking tickets, only 16,000 parking tickets were disputed by citizens or prosecuted by the City. Given the limited Provincial Court time available to hear these cases, approximately 6,000 cases were heard. This has created a backlog of approximately two and a half years (2.6 years).
These outstanding parking tickets represent approximately $7-8 million annually in uncollected revenue.
The average value of a parking ticket in 2009 was $82.00. In 2009, Parking Enforcement received over 50,000 parking ticket enquiries of which approximately 20,000 tickets were cancelled by City staff on a number of grounds. Reasons for cancelling parking tickets (e.g. incorrect date, licence plate, location, vehicle make or meter number), a duplicate ticket was mistakenly issued for the same infraction or the vehicle was exempt.
It is estimated that it will cost $238,000 to fund the new adjudication system yearly.
The adjudication process is expected to increase parking fine collection by $1.2 million in 2011 and up to $3.66 million by 2014. This assumption is based on the current voluntary payment rate at 76%, increasing to 85% with adjudication by the year 2014.
The City Manager, Ms. Penny Ballem, is recommending that the City of Vancouver join the other 43 Municipalities (almost every municipality in Greater Vancouver use the adjudication system) in British Columbia which have already implemented an adjudication system, as opposed to the costly court process.
The City of Vancouver is upgrading the equipment used by Parking By-law Officers, which will enable them to take colour photos of the parking infraction to be used as evidence for Screeners and Adjudicators, under this new adjudication system which will pass at the November 4, 2010 Meeting of Vancouver’s City Council.
By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System:
In 2003, the Province of British Columbia brought into law, the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act to provide an alternative dispute system (ie-Adjudication) to deal with minor by-law offences (ie-parking tickets) which could be done away from the Provincial Courts.
To address the use of court time for minor by-law offences (ie-parking tickets) the Province of British Columbia adopted the Local Government By-Law Enforcement Act in 2003 which created a framework for a non-judicial system for local governments to deal with by-law enforcement disputes. Under the Act, local governments may adopt a by-law to establish a by-law notice dispute adjudication system which largely replaces the Provincial Court as the venue for resolving disputes involving parking tickets.
Since the adoption of this Act 43 municipalities in British Columbia have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) the adjudication model. A pilot project was tested (regarding the adjudication program) in 2004 by the three North Shore communities — the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver and was deemed a success.The Act was adopted as early as May 3, 2004 by the City of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. Others followed, see the chart below.
Date Act Applies
|February 1, 2006||Bowen Island Municipality|
|April 1, 2009||Cariboo Regional District|
|April 1, 2007||City of Abbotsford|
|October 1, 2008||City of Burnaby|
|September 1, 2005||City of Chilliwack|
|September 1, 2005||City of Coquitlam|
|May 1, 2009||City of Cranbrook|
|February 1, 2006||City of Duncan|
|January 1, 2010||City of Kelowna|
|May 3, 2004||City of North Vancouver|
|August 1, 2009||City of Parksville|
|January 1, 2010||City of Penticton|
|October 1, 2008||City of Port Coquitlam|
|September 1, 2005||City of Richmond|
|September 1, 2005||City of Surrey|
|May 1, 2010||City of Vernon|
|October 1, 2010||Corporation of the City of Nelson|
|April 1, 2009||Corporation of the City of New Westminster|
|February 1, 2010||Denman Island Local Trust Committee|
|September 1, 2005||District of Hope|
|September 1, 2005||District of Kent|
|February 1, 2010||District of Lake Country|
|May 3, 2004||District of North Vancouver|
|January 1, 2010||District of Peachland|
|January 1, 2007||District of Pitt Meadows|
|January 1, 2007||District of Squamish|
|January 1, 2010||District of Summerland|
|October 1, 2009||District of Tofino|
|January 1, 2010||District of West Kelowna|
|May 3, 2004||District of West Vancouver|
|February 1, 2006||Fraser Valley Regional District|
|February 1, 2010||Galiano Island Local Trust Committee|
|February 1, 2010||Gambier Island Local Trust Committee|
|March 1, 2009||Greater Vancouver Regional District|
|February 1, 2010||North Pender Island Local Trust Committee|
|January 1, 2010||Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen|
|February 1, 2010||Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee|
|February 1, 2010||Saturna Island Local Trust Committee|
|February 1, 2006||The Municipality of the Village of Lions Bay|
|May 1, 2010||Town of Gibsons|
|February 1, 2010||Town of Oliver|
|July 1, 2008||Township of Langley|
|February 12, 2007||Village of Harrison Hot Spring|
The chart above can be found at Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act – Bylaw Notice Enforcement Regulation. This regulation would be updated to include the City of Vancouver most likely with a date of February 1, 2011.
[SBC 2003] CHAPTER 60
Part 3 — Bylaw Notice Dispute Adjudication
Local Government Dispute Adjudication System
14 A local government may establish a bylaw notice dispute adjudication system, in accordance with this Part, that provides for the hearing and determination of disputes in respect of whether
(a) the contravention alleged in a bylaw notice occurred as alleged, or
(b) the terms and conditions of a compliance agreement were observed or performed.
15 (1) If one or more local governments establish a dispute adjudication system under section 14, the deputy attorney general must appoint one or more adjudicators to determine the disputes, each of whom
(i) have the prescribed qualifications, and
(ii) take an oath in the prescribed form, and
(b) must not
(i) be an employee of a local government, or
(ii) hold an elected office in a local government.
(2) One or more rosters of adjudicators appointed under subsection (1) must be established for the purpose of selecting adjudicators to hear disputes in respect of bylaw notices.
(3) Rosters may be established
(a) for the Province generally, and
(b) for one or more local governments.
(4) An adjudicator for a dispute must be selected
(a) from a roster, and
(b) in the prescribed manner.
(5) In addition to determining disputes, an adjudicator may exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned to adjudicators under this Act.
Limitation on jurisdiction of adjudicator
16 Whether or not the matter arises in the course of hearing and determining a dispute in respect of a bylaw notice or a compliance agreement, an adjudicator may not decide any of the following:
(a) a matter involving the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
(b) a matter for which notice under section 8 of the Constitutional Question Act is required;
(c) a matter involving a determination of aboriginal or treaty rights or claims;
(d) a challenge to the validity of the bylaw that is alleged to have been contravened;
(e) a prescribed matter.
Conflict of Interest
17 An adjudicator may not hear a dispute if the adjudicator has or is reasonably apprehended to have a bias or an interest in relation to the outcome of the dispute.
18 (1) Before making a determination in a dispute, an adjudicator must provide the parties to the dispute with an opportunity to be heard.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a party may be heard, at the election of the party,
(a) in person or by an agent,
(b) in writing, including by facsimile transmission or electronic mail, or
(c) by video conference, audio conference, telephone or other electronic means, if available.
(3) If a person who has requested or required dispute adjudication elects to be heard in a manner set out in subsection (2) (c), the person must pay the local government the amount by which the local government’s adjudication cost is increased because of the manner of hearing.
(4) If a person who has requested or required dispute adjudication is not heard by an adjudicator because the person fails to appear, the adjudicator must order that the penalty set out in the bylaw notice is
(a) subject to the regulations, immediately due and payable by the person to the local government indicated on the bylaw notice, and
(b) recoverable by the local government in accordance with Part 4 [Collection of Bylaw Notice Penalties].
(5) Subject to the regulations, an adjudicator may
(a) adjourn a hearing, and
(b) adopt procedures that are conducive to justly and expeditiously determining a dispute.
Hearings Must be Open to the Public
19 (1) A dispute adjudication must be open to the public unless the determination is to be based on written materials.
(2) If a determination is based on written materials, the local government must make those materials available to the public.
(3) Public access to an oral hearing or to the materials submitted for an adjudication in writing may be provided by the local government in any reasonable manner, which may include by electronic means.
20 (1) In a dispute,
(a) the technical and legal rules of evidence do not apply, except the rules relating to privileged communications, and
(b) an adjudicator may accept any evidence the adjudicator considers to be credible, trustworthy and relevant to the dispute, including the evidence of any person.
(2) An adjudicator may accept evidence in any manner the adjudicator considers appropriate including, without limitation, any of the following manners:
(b) in writing;
21 (1) The standard of proof for resolving a dispute referred to in section 14 [local government dispute adjudication system] is proof on a balance of probabilities.
(2) If, after the hearing required under section 18 [adjudication procedures] in respect of a dispute referred to in section 14 (a) [local government dispute adjudication system], the adjudicator is satisfied that the contravention alleged in the bylaw notice occurred as alleged, the adjudicator must order that the penalty set out in the notice is immediately due and payable to the local government indicated on the bylaw notice by the person to whom it was issued or deemed issued.
(3) If, after the hearing required under section 18 in respect of a dispute referred to in section 14 (a), the adjudicator is satisfied that the contravention alleged in the bylaw notice did not occur as alleged, the adjudicator must cancel the bylaw notice.
(4) If, after the hearing required under section 18 in respect of a dispute referred to in section 14 (b), the adjudicator is satisfied that the person did not observe or perform, as applicable, the terms of the compliance agreement, the adjudicator must order that the penalty set out in the bylaw notice is immediately due and payable by the person to the local government indicated on the notice.
(5) If, after the hearing required under section 18 in respect of a dispute referred to in section 14 (b), the adjudicator is satisfied that the person observed or performed, as applicable, the terms of the compliance agreement, the adjudicator must order that the penalty set out in the bylaw notice in respect of which the compliance agreement was entered into is conclusively deemed to have been paid.
(6) An amount ordered as due and payable to a local government under this section and a fee imposed under section 23 (2) [cost and administration of dispute adjudication system] are recoverable by the local government in accordance with Part 4 [Collection of Bylaw Notice Penalties].
Final Determination by Adjudicator
22 (1) The determination of an adjudicator under section 21 [adjudicator decision] is final and conclusive, and is not open
(a) to review in a court except on a question of law or lack of jurisdiction, or
(b) to appeal to any body.
(2) An application under the Judicial Review Procedure Act in respect of the determination of an adjudicator under this Act must be brought within 30 days after the determination is made.
Cost and administration of dispute adjudication system
23 (1) A local government that establishes a bylaw notice dispute adjudication system is responsible for
(a) the administrative work of the dispute adjudication system,
(b) the administrative costs of the dispute adjudication system,
(c) the remuneration and expenses of adjudicators at the prescribed rates, and
(d) subject to the regulations, the cost of administering a roster of adjudicators.
(2) A local government may provide for a fee of not more than $25 payable by a person who is unsuccessful in a dispute adjudication, in relation to a bylaw notice or a compliance agreement, for the purpose of recovering the costs of the adjudication system.
Update: November 4, 2010 – The City of Vancouver’s “Standing Committee of Council on City Services and Budget’s met on November 4, 2010 at 9:34 a.m. in the Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall. The Committee moved/seconded to recommend to the Council the following:
A. THAT Council direct staff to inform the Province of British Columbia ot its intent to proceed with the implementing of a By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System.
B. THAT Council approve the proposed By-law Notice Enforcement By-law as set out in Appendix B of the Administrative Report dated October 22, 2010, entitled, “By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System”, and that the Director of Legal Services be directed to prepare a by-law generally in accordance with Appendix B of the aforementioned report for consideration by Council.
C. THAT Council adopt the Screening Officer Policy attached as Appendix C of the Administrative Report dated October 22, 2010, entitled “By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System”.
D. THAT Council approve the proposed consequential amendments to the Parking Meter By-law No. 2952, Street and Traffic By-law No. 2849, Granville Mall By-law No. 9978, and Motor Vehicle Noise and Emission Abatement By-law No. 9344 as set out in Appendix D of the Administrative Report dated October 22, 2010, entitled, “By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System”, and that the Director of Legal Services be directed to prepare the by-laws generally in accordance with Appendix D of the aforementioned report for consideration by Council.
E. THAT operating funding ($238,000.00 in 2011) be allocated to support the ongoing administrative expense of a By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System as set out in the Administrative Report dated October 22, 2010, entitled “By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System”, which is to be recovered from the additional revenue to be generated by implementing the By-law Notice Dispute Adjudication System.
F. THAT the City Manager continue to negotiate with the Province of British Columbia as to collection options, including possibly through ICBC. The motion was carried unanimously.
Following the Committee’s meeting on the same day, the City Council met at 1:04 p.m. to review the Committee’s recommendations. The Council met in the Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall.
The City Council Council adopted the Committee’s recommendations unanimously (see the minutes of these meetings).
Update: January 16, 2011 -No more $5 price breaks for parking tickets in Kelowna. Kelowna: It will be $10 if you pay your ticket within 14 days of receiving, $30 if its paid within 28 days, with an additional $5 tagged on for tickets paid after a month.