Fighting fines: NPA Vancouver councillor wants brawlers to pay up

Police patrol Vancouver's Granville Strip. File photo

A Vancouver councillor is throwing a punch at partiers who cause fights and confrontations in the city’s entertainment district.

Melissa De Genova is tabling a motion urging council to consult with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the province on ways to collect fines and recover costs related to public safety, specifically in the Granville Entertainment District or GED.

“This comes down to cost recovery and making sure Vancouver taxpayers aren’t on the hook only for this,” De Genova told Global News.

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The Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Vancouver councillor says VPD data shows that in 2015, 66 per cent of individuals responsible for police calls on the Granville strip and booked in jail overnight on the weekends live outside of the city.

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The fine for fighting in public under Vancouver’s Street and Traffic Bylaw is $500. De Genova says 128 tickets for fighting were issued in 2018 – but only 36 were paid.

Traffic fines must be paid before renewing your driver’s licence or car insurance in B.C., and De Genova says provincial legislation could be amended to force brawlers to pay up the same way outstanding speeding and distracted driving fines are collected.

“I think that it’s important that we send a message that this isn’t acceptable behaviour, and the word on the street currently is that people need to pay their speeding tickets but not their fighting fines.”

In May 2018, De Genova amended a mayor’s motion on liquor policy to include increasing fighting fines from $500 to $1,000, before she realized it wouldn’t really matter.

“What’s the point of increasing a fine if people aren’t paying it?” she asked.

The motion, which also recommends exploring the authority of the city to associate outstanding fighting fines and an individual’s credit rating, goes to council on Tuesday.

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