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Vancouver makes it tougher to fight traffic tickets by playing bureaucracy

February 20th, 2011 · 38 Comments

Knowledgeable fighters of parking tickets knew that it was relatively easy to game the system in Vancouver to get out of paying a fine.

The city’s putting in a new system to change that. Details from Mr. Parking Expert, Vancouver Sun reporter Chad Skelton. A bold — or dastardly — new Vision initiative?

No. I think this was kicked off years ago by Geoff Plant, when he was working for mayor Sam Sullivan on Project Civil City.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Bike

    “…an independent adjudicator appointed by the city”


  • IanS

    Seems like a decent plan. No need for these to clog up the courts.

  • Paul

    Agreed IanS. I’m a little concerned with the additional $25 fee if you’re found to be at fault. Seems like punishment for daring to question the bylaw enforcement officer. I’d rather see all fines go up a certain percentage to cover the additional costs of adjudication. But the idea is sound in principle. Thank you to Sam Sullivan for the idea.

  • Bobbie Bees

    I like this. It’s about time the city cracked down on scoff law motorists, especially the ones who treat parking fines as a business expense.

  • Everyman

    @Bobbie Bees #4, do you hold the same view on cracking down on scofflaw cyclists?

  • Bobbie Bees

    @Everyman #5, Sure, when the city starts charging cyclists for parking. Moving violations are above a by-law enforcement level.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day

    “As if it there were not enough brainless people in this city, the voluntary enrolment numbers in the Stupid School of Parking Self Flagellation are apparently up as well. It’s like we live in a Hollyhock fantasy over, and over, and over again, you know…like trapped in a city of first cousins. “

    Just when you were thinking that Vision’s creativity juices were low here they are at it, again. And don’t tell me it started with Geoff the Civil City Plant, or Sam the Joker Sullivan. Vision are the ones implementing it! And in my book this is what counts.

    Question: Who wants to be the ultimate prick?
    Answer: They are!

    Reading this post and some of the commentaries, took me back to the time when I was a chicken catcher. I still remember the day when some traitorous chicken came over to my RV to cluck to me some insider information, that I could catch double the number if I would only turn off the lights just before entering the chicken coop.
    ‘Night Vision’ goggles helped out too!

    First they screwed up the parking downtown. Under their watch Vision ordered the metered parking to go to TEN PM o’clock in the evening instead of the previously EIGHT PM. Then, street after street were stripped of their One, and Two hours of FREE parking only to be replaced by PAY PARKING/ PERMIT PARKING only. Then the separated bike lanes took the top off and called for the removal of more Free/ Pay/ parking…

    This is only ‘a drop in the bucket’ of the Vision’s recent punishment administered to all the Vancouver citizens living ‘outside’ the circle of Vision bike friendly neighbourhoods …aka KITS, POINT GREY, FALSE CREEK, STRATCHONA , YALETOWN, COAL HARBOUR,WESTEND.
    No wonder.
    Robertson lives at biking distance from his place of worship and punishment; Aufochs crosses the street for lunch if I remember correctly, some of the planners skateboard to work, and then the majority of councillors walk to work. Funny thing is they don’t have to worry about parking (having a parking slate allotted at the city anyway) however, are you ready for this, they all charged full slate for transportation allowance last year!
    What a Oink, Ooink situation we have on our hands!
    What can you do, hey, when they cannot get it ‘transferred’ from Tides quietly, when they cannot save it by closing more Animal Petting Zoos, when their potential casino revenue is threatened by some local punks with attitude, what’s left for them to do… ?

    If he were alive today, George Orwell would have nothing on these new age farmers, temporarily lost in their own bureaucratic vision. In fact he would probably be the first to admit that the Olympic Village will sell for profit…only he would not be able to say for whom.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    PS. I am proud to say that in the last decade I’ve disputed two parking tickets. I won one, I lost one. The lost one was due to the fact that the parking officer woke up when my name was called.

  • Deacon Blue

    Pay parking downtown is gotten to the point that the no-arm bandits are ruling the streets. There are slick, new computerized, solar driven machines. But there is no sliding scale for parking during peak use, or marginal use hours. Supply and demand do not matter when the bureaucrats are in charge.

    Who loses? Every 3 years, its the same folks. Those too blind to think about how a change from 8 pm to 10 pm affects the entertainment sector; public free lectures; and just general milling about. Who loses? Everyday just plain people lose.

  • The taxi and limo drivers in Vancouver are in near revolt parking tickets rain down on us like baseball sized hailstones. We are NOT the cities piggy bank to be cracked open to pay for all kinds of fiscal stupidity. The battle has just begun.

  • There are some good points posted above.

    While I hate paying for parking and parking tickets as much as the next guy or gal, I am in favour of improving the entire parking management system, including the appeal process.

    Firstly, Gerry McGuire is right…the parking regulations discourage the advancement of a ‘taxi culture’ in the city. We should regard taxis as an extension of the public transit system…and need to better accommodate them. I don’t understand why the taxi owners don’t speak out louder about the need for changes. I too have spoken to drivers who accumulate $100’s each month in ‘no stopping’ tickets. (As an aside, I support the idea of allowing taxis to stop and wait by fire hydrants as long as the driver remains in, or by the cab.)

    A recent article noted that a quarter of parking tickets don’t get paid. Why? Surely city officials can come up with ways to ensure they are paid. I can. Why not charge the credit cards of those who pay by phone? Why not reach an agreement with the province that prevents insurance to be renewed unless outstanding tickets are paid? Or why not start towing, like private companies do, when there are outstanding tickets?

    I know this sounds cruel, but I think such measures should be implemented in fairness to the three quarters of us who do pay.

    The city should also review the price of on-street permit parking. It’s out of whack with the cost of parking in garages, or at meters. Underground parking spaces, which the city mandate, often remain empty since apartment residents find it cheaper to park on the street. Is this fair?

    I was not happy with the extension of pay parking from 8 to 10…but I’m not convinced this was such a bad thing in the overall scheme of things, given the new methods of payment. butBut I agree this should be reviewed to ensure it is not negatively impacting the entertainment industry. If it does remain, in order to generate revenues for worthwhile public purposes (that’s why we pay for parking, isn’t it?), why should pay parking begin at 9 am? Why not 7 am? If we are going to charge for parking, let’s do it in a more comprehensive manner. Private parking operators charge on a 24 hour basis….

    Finally, city politicians should no longer receive free parking decals. While I am sure this has been a nice and useful privilege, if we’re going to be the greenest city in the world, how can we possibly justify this anachronistic perk?

    There, now I’ve alienated just about everyone!

  • Max

    The first thing that struck me as ironic….in 2008 Mayoral Candidate Gregor Robertson got tagged with a fare evasion ticket while getting onto the Sky Train.

    For the longest time, he refused to pay the ticket until, pressure was put on him by his ‘financial backers’ who were rather angry with him for drawing what would be the first of ongoing negative attention. (And of course the report on the Oly Village financials was conveniently ‘leaked’ by someone which helped move that attention to a new topic)

    So now the ‘city’ is taking away the right to a fare trial for car drivers by appointing their own ‘city paid’ adjudicator in order to collect unpaid ‘fines’.

    What is also missing is that the city is planning on installing another 700+ parking metres in the near future.

    The war against drivers continues.

  • Morry

    Shame on you for this one Michael:
    “Why not reach an agreement with the province that prevents insurance to be renewed unless outstanding tickets are paid?”

    not connected and should not be connected.

    the meters in this city are on many occasions wrong. WRONG. many have noticed that they can be off by 5 -10 mins . I have been told as much by the guys who repair them.

    Also here is another asinine by-law. If a meter is FAULTY and you park there you get fined! Crazy but true.

  • Paul

    Morry… Actually as much as I hate parking fees and tickets. The by-law you mention actually makes sense. It’s meant to make tampering with a meter of no use.

    eg. Jam a bunch of paper in the slot to render the machine useless, then park there and claim “it was broken.”

    If you want to key on ridiculous enforcement here’s a good one. Did you know that if you are stopped illegally (no-parking/stopping/commercial/etc.) and a by-law enforcement officer sees you. They are actually trained NOT to put a ticket your car. They simply key in your license plate and you get the bill in the mail.

    The city says it’s for the safety of their staff not to confront people. However, my Aunt got nailed by this. She’s 74 y/o and my 70 y/o mother was sitting with her. They REALLY sound like they can be a threat to the by-law officer.

    Now that’s an asinine enforcement method. I mean, one tap on the window by the officer would have fixed the problem.

  • Joe Just Joe


    “eg. Jam a bunch of paper in the slot to render the machine useless, then park there and claim “it was broken.”

    Not sure if you are aware of it or not but it doesn’t matter. It is illegal to park your vehicle at a meter that isn’t working. So if the meter is in fact down, that parking space dissappears, if you leave your vehicle parked there it is subject to a ticket. Learned that the hard way years ago, but I have to admit it’s a sound bylaw from the city to stop people from making the meter malfunction.

  • Morry

    And what are supposed to do when you put a twonie in and get NO TIME. It’s not only a non-funtioning meter but also a ONE ARMED bandit.

    Parking by-laws in the city of Vancouver are quite often nothing less than draconian.
    So what if a meter is legally plugged with some coin giving me 2hours, and then an hour later malfunctions . Am I supposed to get fined because their equipment malfunctions?? … which happens quite often I have been told.

    PPS and what is up with meters until 10pm! Nothing short of usury… no wonder folks avoid the city as much as possible.

  • Ladies and gentlemen…I’d like to welcome you to 2011 when you can pay for parking in Vancouver by dialing 604 909 7275. You get a verification over the phone as to when the parking expires, and you get a warning when the allotted time is approaching. You can then add more money over the phone.

    Sure, every once in a while a meter appears to be broken, and it is frustrating to have to get back into your car and find another meter. But let’s be honest, how often does that really happen….and if it does seem to happen to you often, then sign up for the credit card pay option. It works like a charm.

  • Paul

    @Joe Just Joe…

    Go ahead and re-read my comment. I think you’ll see we were saying the same thing. Appreciate your view though.

  • re ticketless ticketing. Why would staff be at risk if the system and their behaviour was reasonable? How are you supposed to mount a defense against a ticket that you receive two or three weeks after the fact? I got one for parking more than eighteen inches from the curb but did the officer actually get out of his car and measure it? How was I supposed to prove I wasn’t? Another I received after stopping for literally ten seconds in front of a club-no loading zone, no passenger zone, no taxi/limo zone-just a vulture enforcement officer waiting for professional drivers to do what they must do, attempting to serve their customers. A ticketless ticket is an abuse of process and the city’s shamelesss method of increasing the velocity of their cash flow by ripping the flesh off the backs of already struggling professional drivers.

  • Morry

    @ Gerry McGuire / 18

    Beautifully stated.

    ” ripping the flesh off the backs of already struggling professional drivers”

    And ripping other’s flesh has well!

    Last year I was given a parking ticket at 5 mins to 8:00PM. FIVE MINS TO 8PM!

    I fought it and won.

  • Bobbie Bees


    You guys should all give yourselves a big group hug. You poor car drivers, you.
    If I run for mayor, I promise to eliminate all parking meters and all parking restrictions.
    I just let the city streets be one big free for all.
    No time limit on parking. Park for a week, a month a year, who cares?
    Park your semi trailer, your dump truck your 40′ Winnebago.

  • gasp

    Well, none of you can beat this one. A number of years ago I was given a parking ticket at 7:30 pm for parking the wrong way in front of my own house, which is on a dead-end quiet residential street with very little outside traffic.

    I fought that ticket in provincial court and won. The street in front of our home has multiple sewer drains and often gets flooded when there’s heavy rain in Vancouver, and the only way I could prevent a few inches of water from getting into the car was by turning the car around. (I have no idea why this worked, but it may be because we are at the bottom of a hill, so the water may have hit the car from a different direction.)

    The City’s decision to bypass the provincial court system is a very one-sided form of justice. A fine is a penalty which should only be imposed by the City when it is clear a by-law infraction has occurred, and there is no justification for the infraction. The adjudicator has no authority to determine whether or not there’s justification for the infraction – therefore citizens no longer have the same rights under this newly imposed system.

    And to Michael Geller – some of us are still living who don’t have cellphones – I know this is so 20th Century, but we still rely on the old coin method of paying for parking!

  • So I have to share this with you. Went to my accountants this afternoon and parked on Alberni near Cardero. Noticed there were parking meters on one side of the street, but not the other. Thought, that’s odd. Parked on the side without parking meters since there was a space right outside the front door. Noticed the sign said two hour parking.

    As I was heading into the meeting, got a call from a journalist who had been reading my earlier comments on this blog and wanted to confirm a few details. He was doing a story on parking since he was upset about an unfair parking ticket he had received not too long ago.

    After the meeting, returned to my car…..where’s my car? Yes, it had been towed! For some reason, it’s ok to park along the street up to the entry of the office building for 2 hours, and you can park where I parked for 2 hours, but not between 3pm and 6 pm.

    Fortunately, my wife was with me in her car and she drove me over the the City Impound Lot under the Granville Street bridge.

    Hey, where’s the impound lot gone? Fortunately, GASP, both my wife and I have cell phones so we went on line and discovered that the lot was relocated to Industrial Avenue last March! Where’s Industrial Avenue she asks…how do we get there?

    Fortunately, her new I-Phone has a GPS system and after 7 minutes we’re there, in the city’s fancy new impound lot.

    And $94.25 later, I get a little token which allows me to drive out of the lot through the fancy new gate. I noted that the price includes the approved additional fuel tax fee (I wonder when it gets removed…)

    Of course, stapled to my receipt was the ticket I also have to pay. When I expressed surprise that it’s $50, the attendant tells me I can contest it if I want. I tell her I will not be contesting it since I had been making supportive comments about the city’s right to charge for parking and tow cars earlier in the day on Frances Bula’s blog.

    She gives me a very confused look, and decide there’s little point in trying to explain.

  • ps GASP…it’s no longer the 20th Century…it’s now the 21st…it may be time to get a cellphone, especially with the new, very low rates being offered by new competitors in the market!

  • Michelle

    LOL @ Michael Geller/ #22…if your post is not the pure definition of ‘Irony’, I don’t know what is! Next time, maybe you’ll think twice before you’ll make suggestions on how to make our already civic life more miserable. Having said that, I’m too not particularly impressed with the latest draconian Ballem & company measures.

  • Morry

    Michael – thanks for sharing! Bit of bad luck. or bad timing as it is in your case.

    But I don’t think $50 is fair. You should be able to pay 35.00 as others can if paid within 20 days or s. double check.

    PS I am awaiting that reporters Article! I hope he gives it to the city right between the eyes,

  • Morry

    Oh i forgot. have the reporter provide us with a contact where we can relay some of the draconian unjust fines we have witnessed. I have a dozy of one to tell that happened at the World Cup time.

  • Ron

    I’m assuming that the non-,etered side of Alberni was properly signed with the parking restrictions…

    WRT the City’s street parking cash grab – a solar powered parking meter was recently installed on my condo’s downtown block in…. the commercial loading zone!

    The commercial loading zone only applies from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday – Saturday, so some smart person at the City must have realized that they’re missing out on 4 hours on weeknights and all of Sundays, so they installed a meter.

    Expect the trend to spread across the City.

  • Ron

    Unless the meter is for use by commercial vehicles.

    Hmmm – didn’t check it that closely.

  • PeterG

    Vancouver… Is this the only city that provides a warm comfortable place to inject illegal, hard drugs, then applies its bureaucratic brain power on new ways to criminalize the average motorist.? Gotta love it.
    I guess there isn’t much revenue in junkies!

  • Rhett Tolmie

    @ Gerry Mcguire.

    I’m having trouble seeing your argument. Every time you get a ticket you also mention that there was signage saying don’t stop. You have to pay attention in the city. When you are “professionally” driving is it with the same lack of attention that you show when you park.

    You say the “vulture” bylaw enforcement are waiting when you stop in a clubs”no stopping zone” well duh. If you want to stick it to the city don’t stop illegally, and the city wont get your $100.

    It’s not rocket science.

  • Paul

    @Rhett… Tough to say that to a person who’s job it is to stop in front of a business, but there are no spots for him to stop in.

    Having said that, why should someone get door to door pickup, solely because they are paying someone to do the driving? If there are no spots, there are no spots. Take the ticket and roll it into your cost of doing business or refuse to stop unless there is a spot.

    I think there is some common-sense that could be applied though. For instance, a driver dropping off a passenger at a fire-hydrant, commercial zone, non-traffic lane, police zone, etc. should probably be excused from receiving a ticket if they are with their vehicle and actively loading or unloading.

    If they are not with their vehicle or they are impeding the flow of traffic or blocking a sidewalk, then the ticket should be automatic.

  • Morry

    A cab driver got a ticket for stoping to drop off an elderly lady at just such a “No Stopping” spot.

    I guess common sense and logic is out the window when it comes to grabbing some extra money from hard-working stiffs.

    Get that reporter to come here and ask us about some of the petty low life parking meter bs we have had to put up with over-zealous cov meter maids

  • RE Permit Parking. Even a dollar a day $365 per year, would be super cheap for on street permit parking. Yet I pay $75 or so for my West End spot. My building offers secure parking for $45 per month, yet it is empty.

  • pacpost

    @ Deacon Blue

    “But there is no sliding scale for parking during peak use, or marginal use hours.”

    San Francisco is working on a free market approach to parking, the next phase of their plan starts this spring. Will be interesting to see how successful it is, and when we might see it in Vancouver.

  • Bobbie Bees

    You guys make me laugh.
    Not only do you expect society to heavily subsidized your private vehicle, now you expect the city to give you a place to park it.
    What a scam this is.

  • Greg Rice

    On May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am, I pulled up in front of David Oppenheimer Elementary School to drop my 9 year old daughter off.

    I hopped out of my car and took her backpack out of my truck handing it to her with a goodbye kiss. I watched her as she ran toward the entrance of the school and disappeared through the door. I was there for less than two minutes. I didn’t leave my vehicle un-attended. I got back into my car and pulled out. I took a look in my rear view mirror and saw that a bylaw officer had pulled in directly behind me. Not thinking anything of it, I drove away.

    Today, when I checked my mail box, I found a bylaw ticket. I was shocked! To think that this officer could not practice discretion… Or to simply do the civil thing and initiate a conversation with me. To practice such tactics as lurking about and target hard working parents who are simply dropping off and making sure their children get to school safely is just amazing to me. Have they no shame?

    It’s not like I had left my vehicle un-attended. If a fire engine had pulled up I would have had ample time to get into my car and drive away.

    No… To me, this is just a money grab… Just another reason for disdain against the idiots who bring in these ridiculous laws. Why not be able to drop your child off safely in front of her school? Who is it really inconveniencing.

    To add fuel to the fire, now they have made it so you simply can’t have your day in front of a judge and face your accuser.

    Can it get any more petty?

  • Constantin

    I had a similar situation as Greg Rice. On 14 Nov 2012 I was parking a Car2Go (Smart Car) on 1000 Hamilton St (Yale Town) near BMO. I got out of the car and I was heading to pay when a parking officer stop me to say that the car should be park all the way back. The car wasn’t all the way back but also it wasn’t in the street either because it’s a very small car. So, I said to the officer that I only go for 2 minutes to pull some money from the BMO bank. He said, ok go. So, confused I went quick in the bank and back. The officer was still there looking busy with “other things”. He didn’t say and give it to me anything. I got in the car and left. After 2 weeks I got fine for parking “Section Description: EXPIRED METER WITH ZEROS”

    So, I contested the fine and talk with their screener… told her that how it’s possible to park and not pay when an officer is present? The only reason I did that it’s because the officer made me do that with his behavior.
    They recommended me to pay the $35 and write a complain about the officer. They said “the adjudicator will see the report where I parked for 2 minutes without paying. This is black and white.” My big frustration: “Why the officer behavior is not black and white?”

  • steve

    Parking enforcement is so strictly enforced and the system is so rigid and unforgiving it is really designed to strip your hard earned money from you as quickly and efficiently as possible while leaving you powerless to do anything about it. No wonder parking officers are so lowly regarded and must take a lot of verbal abuse everyday.