Calgary

Calgary examines using municipal tribunal, not provincial court, to handle parking tickets

The City is examining whether or not it could give Calgarians an easier option than provincial court when it comes to challenging their parking or transit tickets.

The new power was granted under the city charter

The City of Calgary is looking into whether or not to set up a municipal tribunal to deal with parking tickets, rather than the provincial court. (David Bell/CBC)

The City is examining whether or not it could give Calgarians an easier option than provincial court when it comes to challenging their parking or transit tickets.

Under the city charter, the province is allowing Calgary and Edmonton to look at taking over a few dozen powers previously administered by the province.

One of those powers could be to establish a municipal tribunal, allowing people to bypass court for offences like parking on a snow route or not buying a C-Train ticket. Instead, they'd be dealt with through a yet-to-be-determined municipal process.

Coun. Evan Woolley said the city has been looking at revamping the system for a few years, with the hope cases would be processed faster. He also said handling certain cases municipally would take some strain off the provincial court system that's "bursting at the seams."

"It takes an immense amount of our own resources to work through these court systems, so if there is an ability for us to manage this more quickly and less expensively, that's something our administration is exploring — but we should have a deeper, more thoughtful conversation," Woolley said. 

"We definitely would need to engage Calgarians with any proposal."

Several Canadian cities have either considered or switched to using tribunals, Woolley said. 

Jeremy Fraser, the manager of quasi-judicial boards in the city clerk's office, said an agreement between Calgary and the province to establish a tribunal would have many benefits.

"Typically, the reason for a tribunal to exist is to provide justice on a time frame that's faster than a court, a basis that's more informal and obviously cheaper than a court," Fraser said.

"In the best cases, it's a situation where municipalities realize some organizational efficiency in terms of enforcement of their bylaws, but also represents a relief to the court system in terms of the use of the scarce resources that exist there."

City council will be able to decide whether or not to proceed after a study is released on the issue early next year.

With files from Scott Dippel

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