A parking ticket change should boost City of Winnipeg finances, while drivers may receive fewer warning tickets, according to a new public service report.
A Winnipeg Parking Authority pilot project that ended in December, and received full implementation in January, now allows enforcement officers to consult through FaceTime with supervisors on "questionable" parking situations.
The practice is credited with decreasing the number of warning tickets that get handed out in complex situations, decreasing the number of penalty notices that get challenged, and increasing the number of tickets that are upheld when they are contested, the report says.
The system was once expected to improve the WPA budget by $35,000 per year, through new revenue and savings — an estimate that’s soared to $377,500.
That’s largely due to $221,000 of expected revenue that would otherwise be "lost to warning penalty notices."
The report predicts 3,300 fewer warning tickets will be issued each year.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), council’s innovation and economic development chairman, said the change isn’t intended to crackdown on parking scofflaws: its key goal is to ensure penalties are applied fairly.
"(It’s) just making sure that the validity of the tickets is more solid… The new process is more robust, and there will be less grey area," he said.
The councillor said staff also observe sites that become ticketing hotspots and assess to ensure signage and other factors aren’t confusing drivers.
"There should be less erroneous tickets issued," he said.
Each year under the new system, the city also expects to earn $81,000 more due to more penalty notices being upheld. And it expects to save $75,500 on labour, thanks to a reduced need to screen contested tickets.
The pilot project also cost much less than its initial price of $88,000, with an actual price of $8,517. That’s because the city opted to have staff communicate through FaceTime on existing smartphones instead of buying vehicle-mounted cameras and other technology.
The report indicates the city will explore using the strategy to enhance other civic services.
Browaty suggested property inspectors could perhaps benefit from virtual check-ins with supervisors, to address any confusion over bylaws or building codes.
City spokesperson Kalen Qually said the program’s early success led the pilot project to be shortened to six months from eight, which allowed for an earlier, full parking authority implementation.
"The project was shortened by two months because it appeared to have already proven itself… Officers are able to make better informed decisions, which means fewer arguable tickets will be issued, reducing the number of appellants and improving customer service," Qually wrote in an emailed statement.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
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