City's parking ticket appeal system may be challenged in court
'We're going to go to a courtroom. Immediately,' says Wise Up Winnipeg's Todd Dube after appeal turned down
The Winnipeg Parking Authority's relatively new system for appealing tickets will come under the scrutiny of a judicial review in a Manitoba court, if a ticket-fighting group gets its way.
The new system was launched at the direction of the province in August 2016, taking appeals out of the hands of provincial justices of the peace and giving the authority to provincially appointed adjudicators at the WPA building on Portage Avenue.
On Thursday, Cory Schroeder used the process to appeal a ticket he received during a residential parking ban last December, but had his appeal turned down by an adjudicator.
Schroeder's ticket had already been reviewed by a WPA screening officer and he was offered a $50 reduction on the $150 ticket. He chose to appeal that decision.
Wise Up Winnipeg anti-ticket crusader Todd Dube attended the appeal Thursday. His lawyer, Robert Zaparniuk, argued Schroeder's case in front of an adjudicator.
Zaparniuk's challenge to the ticket centred on the lack of signs stating the hours of the parking prohibition.
Dube has previously argued that under the Highway Traffic Act, the city is required to use signage to make motorists "reasonably aware" of any parking restrictions, and that means Know Your Zone tickets are invalid.
The city currently warns drivers of parking bans on residential streets through its Know Your Zone publicity campaign, media announcements and emails sent to those who sign up for the service warning when specific streets are under the ban.
Schroeder said he missed the announcements when he parked on the street.
"I wasn't keeping track of the Know Your Zone campaign. I'd been on holidays. I wasn't really aware there was an issue; that there was a big snow-clearing program going on," Schroeder said.
The adjudicator told the three men she did not accept the arguments.
"I think, or find, the bylaw is appropriately drafted," she said.
As for the absence of signs stating the times of the parking ban, the adjudicator said the bylaw "by inference includes those times."
When Zaparniuk attempted to offer further information, the adjudicator said, "I'm not really here to argue with you."
The decision forces Schroeder to pay the full $150 fine and has prompted the trio to plan their next move.
Zaparniuk took a shot at the new process for appeals.
"There is a shifting of responsibility, almost. It appears once an individual comes in they are already guilty and you have to find a way to disprove that guilt, as opposed to a normal process — the other way around," he said.
"Though it's probably working in streamlining [the process], I don't think it's fair to the accused."
The lawyer for Wise Up Winnipeg also didn't like the verdict.
"It would appear they are ignoring the legislation of what it actually says and, as the adjudicator said, she made 'inferences' in terms of arriving at her decision and then was selective in terms of ignoring the time frames [of the parking ban] that are relevant," Zaparniuk said.
Wise Up Winnipeg's Dube, who has been fighting tickets and speed zone violations for years, is ready for another battle.
"We're not stopping here, we are starting here," Dube said. "We're going to go to a courtroom. Immediately."
Dube and Zaparniuk will now apply for a judicial review of the case in provincial court. But the activist says the fight should have been solved by legislators by now.
"What is happening in this province? Really. I mean that. The mayor? The councillors? The justice minister? The minister of infrastructure? Where are they on these facts? Everything we spoke to in there [at the appeal] we tabled with them. They all have copies of this. Where are these people?" Dube said.
The City of Winnipeg sent a statement saying the process for complaints falls under the Municipal By-law Enforcement Act, which is a provincial law, and it is comfortable with the ruling on Schroeder's ticket.
"It is our understanding that an adjudicator has upheld the City's approach to enforcing the Residential Parking Ban," the statement said.