Ridge moving to parking ticket adjudication

New bylaw would save time, money, sparing people from days in court

It soon will be easier to dispute a parking ticket if Maple Ridge council decides to follow the rest of B.C. cities and adopt an adjudication process.

Council decided last week to tell staff to write up a bylaw making the change, so that anyone who disputes a ticket can challenge it without having to spend hours in court.

Coun. Corisa Bell introduced the issue, saying the current system isn’t cost effective and draws many complaints.

Bylaw officers who visit a home to issue a ticket can then issue others once on the premises, if they see other violations.

Currently, Maple Ridge uses the municipal ticket information system, where if a vehicle is improperly parked, a warning ticket is left on the windshield.

However, for the ticket to be valid, that system requires that the ticket, which has five copies, be served personally to the violator, which can require several visits from bylaw staff.

If somebody wants to challenge the ticket, that then requires a visit to provincial traffic court, where parking tickets are left until the end of the day, or sometimes not at all. It can also take months to get a court date.

As well, city bylaw officers defending the ticket must also attend, usually for the entire day, wracking up more costs to the city.

“This assuredly is a waste of the residents and bylaw enforcement officers time,” says a report.

With bylaw officers issuing 15 to 20 parking tickets a week, it takes up to 25 hours of bylaw time, equating to $40,000 a year.

But under the what’s called the adjudication system, a screening officer can hear a challenge to a parking ticket.

That can be a half-hour process that gives an immediate answer to the challenger on whether a ticket will be upheld or challenged.

If the ticket is upheld, the resident then can make a second appeal to an adjudicator, who’s been trained by the B.C. Attorney General and can either uphold the ticket or cancel it. The entire process can be done inside Maple Ridge city hall instead of making a trip to Port Coquitlam provincial court.

The system was first introduced to B.C. cities in 2004, bylaws director Liz Holitzki said in 2011, when she first introduced the system.

That year, North Vancouver city, district and West Vancouver, implemented the system on a trial basis, resulting in the number of parking tickets being disputed dropping by 94 per cent, while there was an 81-per-cent increase in collection of outstanding fines.

Maple Ridge previously received provincial approval to adopt the new parking ticket system.

However, Holitzki said, since May 2011, she has made three separate attempts with the previous council to get it to pass bylaws and move to the new parking ticket system. “… however, for various reasons, each attempt was unsuccessful.”

Pitt Meadows made the change to parking ticket adjudication eight years ago.