City of Trail to put the ‘boot’ to those with unpaid tickets

New bylaw will clamp down on growing trend of unpaid fines

People with unpaid parking tickets in Trail will be given the boot.

A boot device for immobilizing vehicles—for the accumulation of unpaid parking tickets—is expected to be shoehorned onto downtown streets as the city struggles to collect on over $150,000 worth of unpaid fines in the last four years.

City council is preparing to adopt a Traffic Bylaw amendment that would allow the implementation of the device as a deterrent to up the compliance rate of people paying their parking tickets.

In 2012, the percentage of people paying their tickets dropped to 42 per cent, a steady drop from 63 per cent four years ago, meaning the city is owed almost $43,000 in unpaid fines.

Council decided to bring in the boot after much “study and review,” said councillor Kevin Jolly.

“This isn’t being entered into lightly,” he said. “I’m not in favour of this type of measure. But if you look at the recovery rate … and over $43,000 in uncollected parking tickets in the city of Trail, essentially what is happening is people are disregarding (tickets) because there is no implication if they do.”

City corporate administrator Michelle MacIsaac said the voluntary payment of parking fines has been dropping.

“It is ineffective to continue to issue violation notices to vehicles … if these parking tickets are going to remain unacknowledged,” she told council Monday night.

“There are a lot of people who are thinking this is just a joke,” said Mayor Dieter Bogs about the current ticket system. “When you are only collecting 40 per cent of the tickets that are being issued, that is totally unsatisfactory.”

The city’s Traffic Bylaw currently provides authority for the city to either impound a vehicle or to issue a violation notice (commonly known as a parking ticket) if the vehicle is parked in contravention of the Traffic Bylaw.

In the downtown metered zones, violation notices are commonly issued for expired parking meters, over parking in time zone, parking in lane, loading zone, or no parking zone or parking without a valid ticket displayed.

The amendment to the Traffic Bylaw would allow a third option at the discretion of the bylaw enforcement officer to seize a vehicle using the boot device.

If the bylaw enforcement officer believes the registered owner has been issued numerous offence notices for similar contraventions, under the amendment the bylaw officer will be given the option to now use the boot device.

But how would a bylaw officer know a vehicle has many violations on it, asked councillor Gord DeRosa.

“We certainly don’t want to be putting the boot on vehicles with only a few parking tickets,” he said.

With the use of a new hand held device, the bylaw officer can immediately connect with the parking management system at City Hall, said MacIsaac.

If there are any unpaid tickets on file with the city’s payment module for that particular licence plate, the meter official will receive an indication of that through the device.

And if the amount warrants it, the Community Charter provides the city authority to seize the vehicle (with the definition of seize including impound and detain with the boot).

A fee of $75 will be established for the seizure and is connected to the city’s costs of carrying out the seizure.

The boot device is already on order, said MacIsaac. It would “boot” the vehicle with a clamp that surrounds a vehicle wheel, designed to prevent removal of both itself and the wheel.

The boot device will be applied and removed by the parking meter attendant with the assistance of the bylaw enforcement officer.

Parking management system

City council has agreed to provide a time-limited opportunity for people with outstanding parking tickets to pay the initial fine amounts in full settlement of parking fines owing.

Over 1,900 statements were mailed the week of Jan. 2l to those with unpaid parking tickets to encourage payment.

To take advantage of this time-limited opportunity, payment of the reduced amount must be submitted to City Hall by Feb. 22.

“It’s substantial savings for people who haven’t paid in a while,” said Jolly.

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