Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Parking tickets in mail mulled

Councillor says new law will mean more costs for city

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There may soon come a day Winnipeg motorists will no longer be able to avoid a parking infraction by rushing to their cars and driving away before a ticket winds up on their windshields.

Changes to provincial regulations may give the Winnipeg Parking Authority the option of sending tickets in the mail.

On Friday, city council's alternate service delivery committee -- a body that oversees Winnipeg's four special operating agencies -- was told how parking in the city may be affected by changes to Bill 38, a piece of provincial legislation governing offences and municipal bylaw enforcement.

The legislation would allow tickets to be delivered "by mailing a copy of the penalty notice by regular mail" in addition to being placed on motor vehicles or handed directly to motorists.

'They're trying to off-load this on to us. They won't have to pay for this anymore and we'll be on the hook'

-- Coun. Russ Wyatt, on how the change will force the city to resolve ticket disputes and absolve the province of the costs of running a traffic court

Randy Topolniski, the Winnipeg Parking Authority's chief operating officer, warned Couns. Russ Wyatt (Transcona), Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Grant Nordman (St. Charles) the new legislation will change the way parking tickets are handed out and adjudicated.

But it will take months before motorists notice any changes. Once the provincial legislation takes effect, the parking authority must recommend changes to existing ticketing practices. City council will then decide whether to approve those changes.

"Until then, our policy (and) practice requiring personal service or leaving the offence notice on the vehicle will remain in force," city spokeswoman Alissa Clark said in a statement.

The legislation may also require the city to set up its own means of adjudicating disputes about parking tickets.

Wyatt said this would, in effect, require the City of Winnipeg to replace the provincial magistrates who currently settle parking-ticket disputes -- at an as-yet-unknown cost to the city.

"They're trying to off-load this on to us," Wyatt said following the meeting. "They won't have to pay for this anymore and we'll be on the hook."

A spokesman for the Selinger government said that is not the intent of the new legislation.

The bill "is about making fines and payment of offences easier for people, allowing people to pay more fines without going to court (and) clearing up court resources so they can focus on bigger crimes," Matt Williamson said in a statement.

In 2012, the Winnipeg Parking Authority issued 164,041 tickets, according to the agency's business plan for 2014. Of those tickets, 2,865 -- or less than two per cent of the total -- wound up in court.

This year, the parking authority expects to rake in $15.3 million in revenue against expenses of $14.2 million. Parking enforcement -- that is, revenue from tickets -- is expected to generate $7.7 million worth of revenue by the end of the year.

In 2014, the parking authority expects to increase its enforcement haul to $8.6 million, according to its business plan.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 A3

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