Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/6/2015 (1581 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Parking Authority is owed more than $840,000 in overdue tickets from 1992-2000, according to data obtained by the Free Press.
Of the 570,998 tickets issued by the Winnipeg Parking Authority during that span, 13,526 remain unpaid (nearly 2.4 per cent). Those outstanding fines amount to $842,840 missing from the parking authority’s proverbial pockets.
There are also 15,800 outstanding parking tickets that have been forwarded to liens or collections contractors (nearly 2.8 per cent of the pile), tallying $988,000 in missing fines.
The average outstanding ticket is $62.42.
Six local drivers said they didn’t know they owed decades-old fines before February. Some of them found out as late as last week about the old parking tickets.
The revenue-related discoveries came after a new agency responsible for collections, liens and seizures took over the WPA portfolio in January 2015. The change was the result of a bidding process carried out as part of the city’s normal course of business when a contract expires, a city spokeswoman said in an email statement.
The new collection agency has been reviewing existing files, to which Winnipeg truck driver, John Phills, tipped his cap.
"This new collection agency is quite effective I would say," Phills told the Free Press after receiving a notice for six tickets dated between 1993 and 1994 in February 2015.
Phills said he didn’t know the tickets existed and would have paid them promptly otherwise. He doesn’t have copies of the original receipts for reference, a bookkeeping lapse that could cost him $447.50.
When a bailiff knocked at his door on June 8 saying he had until June 20 to pay up or lose his vehicle, Phills resigned to pull out his credit card.
"I don’t really have any choice at this point. It appears that they will take my vehicle if I don’t pay the bill. I don’t have any way to fight this," he said.
Phills doesn’t want to skip work to fight the tickets, which would guarantee he loses wages. He plans to pay the lofty fines in increments, so as not to lose his car.
"My time is really more valuable to me than going down there," he said. "I just thought it was ridiculous that I was getting these 22 years later in the mail."
"At any point during the last 20 years, I haven’t moved out of the province. I’ve had vehicles registered in my name and had a driver’s license. And at no point during those years did I get a notice in the mail."
Ken Botan drew a similarly short stick. He received an invoice in early June for a parking ticket showing he stopped in a no-loading zone – in 1996.
"With all the costs overruns we’ve been having in the city the last couple years, I guess they’re chasing nickels and dimes now," said the teacher from Winnipeg. "It seems like a bit of desperation."
Botan has lived in Winnipeg since the 1990s, always commuting by car and renewing his driver’s licence when need be. He said he rarely gets parking tickets, therefore the parking authority might have had to "look deep" to find him.
The statute of limitations on city parking tickets does not expire, so the parking authority can remind ticket holders of outstanding fees and collect them at any time.
Manitoba Public Insurance can help the parking authority track down drivers by providing their contact information in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, an MPI spokesman said.
After nearly 20 years, many drivers, like Botan, are hard-pressed to remember where they got the old infractions.
Their invoices list "converted data locations" as the culprits. To get precise coordinates, drivers would need to see the paper tickets.
The city might no longer have those locations on file electronically, said one traffic ticket expert.
Former police officer, Rodney (Radar) Bolianaz, said the parking authority changed its filing system since the ‘90s to include microfiches and probably no longer has paper copies of old tickets.
Still, the parking authority should be able to show ticketed customers their microfiches, he said.
"If you can't see the original ticket, then there's no way to contest it to determine if it was you," Bolianaz told the Free Press in early June. "What happens if the parking ticket guy wrote the licence plate number down wrong? What happens if his writing was illegible?"
For Leonard Kies, who got a notice for three outstanding tickets from 1996 about three weeks ago, the crux of the matter is the seemingly lagging pace of the city’s parking authority.
Kies’s parking ticket fines add up to $190 and he plans to fight them in traffic court, if only to teach the city a lesson, he said.
"Either way, I think I will pay. But 20 years — I think the public should know how slow some of its departments are," Kies said.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 5:08 PM CDT: Adds comments from driver.