Got a parking ticket? You'll soon be able to fight it at Metro Hall, not in the courts

Toronto drivers hoping to fight their parking will soon have a chance to make their case online or in-person at Metro Hall, rather than in a courtroom.

Switch in city's ticket dispute process takes effect August 28

A pay-and-display parking meter on a Toronto street. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

If you're a driver who's received one of the 190,000 tickets handed out by the city of Toronto every month on average, you'll soon be able to fight it without going to provincial court. 

Starting Aug. 28, the city will have a new desk at Metro Hall, staffed with a screening officer, dedicated to handling ticket appeals on the spot.

The new model, approved by city council, will "provide a more efficient and convenient process for the public, including faster resolutions for parking disputes and the option to submit disputes online," according to a spokesperson from the City of Toronto. 

Deepak Kalibarambil was hit with a $450 parking ticket after he said a medical emergency forced him to park in a prohibited spot. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

Currently, drivers can fight their tickets by filing a dispute form at city hall and then requesting a trial through the provincial court system; a process that can take several months before the case ends up in front of a judge. 

That's the system Deepak Kalibarambil now faces.

Karambali said he received a $450 ticket two weeks ago after parking in a prohibited space for several minutes while dropping off a friend during a medical emergency on Dan Leckie Way. 

"That was a big shock for me, I never expected this kind of ticket," said Kalibarambil, who added he believed the officer should have given him a grace period given the circumstances.

He will now have to wait six months before he can make his case before a provincial court judge. 

An average of 190,000 parking tickets are issued every month by the City of Toronto. (CBC)

The city hopes the new system will cut down on the backlog of court cases.

It promises a faster and more fair response for drivers, including the ability to use "an online option, which would not require them to appear at all in person ... Individuals will be able to select times, which work with their schedules for an initial in-person screening," according to the city spokesperson.

That's welcome news to Kalibarambil and the disgruntled drivers lining up to pay (or fight) their tickets at city hall. 

"In countries like Canada, the system should be much faster...I think [changing the system] is the best move the city is making and it's much appreciated," he said. 

Screening officers can cancel ticket immediately

The city said among the most common complaints they've received is the wait time to appeal a ticket that often costs $40 to $50.

And while the new system of screening officers is meant to streamline the process and take pressure off a congested court system, there are no guarantees that offending drivers will prevail — they'll merely get the chance to argue their case. 

Screening officers will have the ability to cancel a ticket or change the penalty immediately. If drivers aren't happy with the outcome, they can appeal the decision in-person to a hearing officer for further review.

After that, the decision will be final. 

A City of Toronto spokesperson said, "there are no further rights of appeal from the decision of a Hearing Officer." 

The city added that even with the remaining number of steps involved in its new dispute system, it expects the process to be much shorter than the current court-based dispute system.