Toronto to Simplify Parking Ticket Dispute System

By Kristina Skorbach On November 30, 2012 @ 8:04 pm In Toronto | 1 Comment

A screenshot from the City of Toronto’s website taken Nov. 30, 2012, shows ticket payment information. A new report from the City of Toronto ombudsman says the city makes information to pay tickets easy to find but buries information about how to cancel tickets, making it difficult for the public to challenge tickets. (Screenshot/Toronto.ca)

A screenshot from the City of Toronto’s website taken Nov. 30, 2012, shows ticket payment information. A new report from the City of Toronto ombudsman says the city makes information to pay tickets easy to find but buries information about how to cancel tickets, making it difficult for the public to challenge tickets. (Screenshot/Toronto.ca)

Toronto will improve its system for handling parking tickets after the city’s ombudsman presented her findings and recommendations in an investigation report released on Nov. 22.

“My report is very much about, you make it very easy to pay, you make it very difficult to find out how to dispute [the ticket],” said ombudsman Fiona Crean.

Toronto’s city manager Joseph P. Pennachetti has accepted all 11 of Crean’s suggestions in her report titled “An Investigation into the Parking Ticket Dispute System in Toronto.”

The report highlighted the need for simpler and clearer guidelines for disputing parking infractions, especially on the city’s website.

The website not only contained wrong or misleading information, which according to Crean’s office “exaggerates the inconvenience of fighting a ticket in court,” it also buried the 20-page “Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines” under a long string of links.

The City has something called Cancellation Guidelines, which are public, but unknown to anybody.

— Toronto Ombudsman

According to Crean, directions about how to pay are very visible on the website, but citizens have to navigate through some seven pages before they find out how to dispute their ticket.

“The City has something called Cancellation Guidelines, which are public, but unknown to anybody,” she said.

A new design and implementation of the website is underway and should be completed by end of 2013.

“The IT stuff takes a while,” Crean said.

Things like wrong information on the website will be corrected within the next couple of weeks, she said.

Another recommendation that will be put into practice is displaying the guidelines at the civic centre where citizens go to pay for their parking infractions.

Replacing the Fine System

Crean also suggested that the city eliminate the fine system, as has been done in neighbouring cities like Vaughan and Oshawa.

In its place, Toronto should establish an administrative monetary penalty (AMP) system for parking violations, which would take the pressure off the courts and allow parking disputes to be settled through an administrative adjudicator or a tribunal.

An AMP is a civil penalty aimed at promoting compliance with laws and regulations. It would not result in imprisonment or a criminal record.

A similar system was put in place in Vancouver after the provincial courts refused to process parking tickets that had grown to a two-and-a-half year backlog, noted the report.

The new system gives residents there 14 days to submit a dispute request form. That form is screened by a junior screener for straightforward ticket errors. A more senior screener can cancel tickets that are health-related or not “in the best interest of the city.”

If the ticket goes forward, the case is heard in person, on the phone, or via writing by a province-appointed adjudicator. The process takes about three months to complete.

According to the report, Toronto issues some 2.8 million parking tickets that generate $80 million in revenue annually.

How to Get Your Tickets Cancelled

There are a number of circumstances in which a parking ticket can be cancelled, provided there is evidence, as outlined in the Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines.

For example, if the parking ticket had incorrect or missing data, such as the date, time of the infraction, plate number, or vehicle type model, you can get the ticket cancelled if you have the parking receipt.

If you have a “Disabled” parking permit sticker on your car but the officer failed to see it, you can scan your sticker and the ticket and send an email to request a cancellation.

If you were ticketed outside a place of worship, you can have the ticket cancelled under certain circumstances.

If a security company responds to an alarm that goes off in a building and parks in an undesignated area, the ticket can get cancelled on the grounds of an emergency situation with substantial proof.

If your car, with a valid on-street or area parking permit, is in the garage for repair and you rent a car and get a parking ticket, you can get the ticket cancelled if you provide proof of the rental agreement and the garage repair bill.

View the complete Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines.

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