July 22, 2016 10:36 pm
Updated: July 22, 2016 10:40 pm

City of Vancouver powerless to collect million in parking fines

WATCH: The city of Vancouver has a staggering amount of unpaid fines and fees, with little or no way of going after them. Kristen Robinson has more.

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Want to see more money for your local library or community centre? How about increased garbage collection, more policing or firefighting hours – or even lower taxes?

In Vancouver, there is $6 million dollars that could go into general revenue for those and other services – if only the city could collect the cash.

That number is what the city is owed in outstanding parking and traffic bylaw fines for 2015 alone.

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Of the 362,216 tickets issued last year, more than 86 per cent have been paid. But nearly 48,000 remain outstanding and the fines add up to more than $6 million dollars.

“It’s frustrating that people are not adhering to the law. Some people have multiple tickets and they’re not paying fines and we need to go after these individuals,” said Vancouver city councillor Raymond Louie, who also chairs Metro Vancouver’s Intergovernment and Finance Committee.

The City of Vancouver does not collect data on the parking scofflaws, but licence plate numbers reveal 1/6th of the unpaid $6 million is from out of province plates. If a municipal parking or traffic bylaw ticket is not paid after 60 days, it is sent to a collection agency, which can hunt you down but can’t force you to pay.

Unlike provincial speeding or red light tickets, municipal fines do not have to be paid before renewing your driver’s licence or car insurance, making it almost impossible for municipalities to collect on them.

The Union of BC Municipalities says trying to enforce parking regulations is an ongoing frustration for local governments.

“We need the government to amend the legislation to permit us to put it on property based taxation…or to allow us to collect it via ICBC when people come to renew their drivers’ licences or insurance,” said UBCM president Al Richmond.

Since 2003, the UBCM says it has passed several resolutions asking for outstanding parking and traffic bylaw fines to be added to property taxes or paid through ICBC before drivers’ licences and insurance are renewed.

“Being the same privilege afforded to TransLink for people who avoid fares we think that’s fair and equitable and would go a long way towards making people where they can’t just violate the rules and regulations without paying the price,” said Richmond.

In a statement, the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said the province is not considering expanding section 258 of the Community Charter to include fine violations as part of taxes in arrears. Parking tickets “are fines with little or no relationship to any municipal service to a specific property. Thus, there is no logical basis for assigning them as a lien against a property,” they said.

The ministry adds that “Under Sections 260 to 262 of the Community Charter, municipalities have broad authority to recover unpaid amounts,” including prosecution and enforcement by civil court proceeds.

The provincial government also has no plans to have ICBC collect municipal by-law fines, citing increased administrative costs that would result in either “a corresponding increase in basic insurance rates or the costs would be to municipalities.”

Still the minister responsible, Peter Fassbender, told Global News he is open to listening to the concerns of municipalities regarding the collection of outstanding parking and traffic fine revenue.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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