Ontario municipalities are asking the province to help them collect some $1.5 billion in unpaid fines for infractions like speeding.

Local and regional governments can receive money collected for infractions of the Provincial Offences Act (POA), like speeding, careless driving, not wearing a seatbelt and excessive noise.  But cities don't have the authority to collect fines that are overdue. 

"Over the province as a whole, there's about $1.5 billion worth of unpaid POA fines," said Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr in an interview. "In the Region of Waterloo, it amounts to about $29 million. That's a lot of money."

The issue of unpaid fines came up during the annual general meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which is being held this week in London. On Monday, the association asked Ontario's municipal affairs minister Ted McMeekin to help its members reclaim the lost revenue. 

Zehr says mayors and chairs from across Ontario are asking the province to draft legislation that would link a POA fine to the offender's licence plate – much like the way parking or red-light infraction fines, which aren't covered under the POA, are collected.

If the requested changes are made, it would be impossible to get a licence renewed without paying any penalties. 

Zehr said McMeekin made no promises in response to the association's request, except to say that he will bring the issue before the Liberal cabinet.