City of Vancouver fires Traffic Court, turns to garbage for cash
After losing millions on bad investments like the Olympic Village, and unpopular projects like the downtown bike lanes, the City targets unsuspecting drivers under a little known bylaw.
Two years ago the City of Vancouver passed a law forbidding traffic court judges to reduce traffic and parking fines. Still not pleased with the judges, the City finally decided to take the law into its own hands, denying suspected offenders the right to legal process at the traffic court. As of February 22nd and very quietly, the City did away with the court system. It appears, however, that the Government of British Columbia is the driving force behind what may be the most blatant case of denying citizens access to the justice system.
In a further attempt to increase parking ticket revenues the City has now turned to garbage bins around Vancouver to help put it in black again. Under a little known bylaw parking enforcement officers, affectionately called Yellow Zombies by the Robson Starbucks crowd, are ticketing unsuspecting drivers that happen to park within less than 1.5 meters of a garbage bin.
One victim of “Operation Garbage Bin” is Fabian M., an unemployed office worker that is on welfare. Fabian, who has a parking permit from the City, says he’s parked at the same spot for 5 years until he was shocked to find that his car had disappeared. “I thought it had been stolen, because I’d parked in a spot that had been specifically marked for parking in a permit parking zone, and I wasn’t blocking access to the mobile garbage bin” He first called the police, and was incredulous when he learned that his car had been towed away at 5:45PM when it was unlikely that the garbage bin would be emptied. There is no “no parking” sign around the spot.
Fabian’s amazement grew when he found out that the impound lot was operated not by Busters Towing that had towed his car, but by the City who collected the $95 towing fee, apparently a joint venture with the towing companies. He decided to fight the ticket, but soon got a call from a “City Screening Officer”. He says the officer blamed the towing on the building management, but urged him to pay the ticket since there’s no traffic court anymore and his chances of getting out of the fine are next to nil. His $50 ticket has now gone up to $100. The City told him he has to pay a $25 administration fee for adjudication, and the adjudicator has no power to cancel or reduce the fine.
I’ve toured around the downtown lanes between Denman, Robson and Burrard streets, and found only one no stopping sign posted by the City with reference to the garbage bin bylaw. Most garbage bins are on wheels. This means that the bins could be moved into an illegal position after a driver has parked.
The other day I asked half a dozen motorists that parked along Thurlow Street if they knew about City of Vancouver bylaw 2849. None of them did.