Wednesday, July 5, 2006

If it was no insurance, I'd be banned from driving, but parking fines ...

The City of Toronto said they're having an impossible time trying to collect parking fines from people visiting the city from out of province. They say people from Alberta are the worst scofflaws when it comes to illegally parking in Toronto, but they also have consistent problems with people from British Columbia, Québec and New York State, among other jurisdictions. I'm not really surprised though; years ago I travelled to Prince Edward Island and at a gas station in New Brunswick someone had chucked their parking ticket from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

When Toronto approached those other jurisdictions and others to go after the violators, most flatly said they wouldn't cooperate at all, while others wanted a commission to share vehicle registration information. The only ones that would agree to go after the law-breakers for free were New York, Pennsylvania and Maine. Note that no Canadian province was among them.

This is amazing. The 407 toll road is vicious in going after out-of-province users, as well as those within it. Ontario has reciprocity with a number of jurisdictions on moving violations and insurance requirements. In fact, neighbouring New York bans drivers from out of state for one year if they're not carrying the minimum insurance requirements.

Closer to home, if I let a parking ticket lapse here, I couldn't renew my license.

But other than property taxes, parking fines and public museum fees are just about the only source of revenue cities have. Until the provinces start allowing them to charge hotel taxes, for instance, they need that money badly. If we want to do convention business with those other places, they should at least owe us some courtesy and play with us on this one. The law is the law, and just because your license plate is from another jurisdiction doesn't give you immunity.

Unless of course, you're a diplomat; and you drive drunk and kill someone.

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