Calgary council asked to establish municipal tribunal to handle ticket appeals

Calgary city hall pictured in fall 2017. Dani Lantela/Global News/File

The City of Calgary could save $500,000 annually if a majority of parking ticket appeals and transit fare evasion appeals did not go to provincial traffic court but were handled by a municipal tribunal.

In 2018, the government of Alberta approved city charters for Calgary and Edmonton, and as part of that, allowed the two centres the ability to set up a municipal tribunal to hear such appeals.

A report going to city council’s priorities and finance committee on Tuesday states the city spends nearly $1 million annually in dealing with cases that go to provincial court.

“In the current court-based system, approximately 20 administrative support personnel are involved full-time in the processing and adjudication of parking and transit fare evasion contraventions. Up to four prosecutions staff are involved in supporting the prosecution of parking and fare evasion matters in the court,” it said.

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“There are also 80 Calgary Parking Authority staff and 90 Calgary Transit enforcement personnel who are required to attend court in support of prosecutions. In total, 190 city employees are involved in the court process on a full- or part-time basis.”

Tribunals would be less formal and more flexible and faster than the courts, according to the report. Hearings would be held in publicly accessible meeting spaces and hearing dates and times would be set up so members of the public would not have to sit through other appeals.

The annual cost to operate a tribunal system is $500,000, the report said. The committee is being asked to recommend that city council approach the provincial government to negotiate a cost-sharing agreement. Ticket appeals make up a significant volume of cases at provincial courts and take up provincial resources as well.

The report states there is a risk to the program as the province could scrap the city charter agreements that were negotiated between Calgary and Edmonton over the past decade through several provincial governments.

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