For those living in the shadows of parking ticket shame, amnesty has been granted.
The city has officially granted a one-time amnesty period for financial penalties that have been issued against the Traffic Bylaw.
City chief financial officer Colin McClure told city council Monday night that the parking amnesty — from Dec. 4 to Jan. 19 — has the potential to generate significant revenue, but one third of it will be available to provide financial support to the city’s Active Transportation Plan and deal with the parking crunch in the downtown.
After approving the amnesty plan, several city councillors asked that the money go toward the plan and further develop a parking strategy for the city's downtown. Two thirds of the ticket revenue will be allocated to the downtown and waterfront reserve.
McClure said the city is currently in the process of changing its 16-year-old bylaw enforcement software and hardware. He said the plan for the transition to the new T2 system is expected to take place this month.
“This conversion to a new system is the impetus of allowing a one-time parking ticket amnesty,” he said in his report to council.
The goal is to provide the opportunity for those who have one to two outstanding tickets, which — based on the compiled data — make up 73 per cent of the vehicle owners with tickets. The percentage jumps to 87 per cent of owners with four or less tickets.
“The hope is that the amnesty will provide the opportunity to those owners who may not be aware they have outstanding tickets, to settle them and have a clean slate with the new enforcement system,” McClure explained.
There are a number of local residents that have notably more than one or two outstanding tickets and the amnesty appears to reward their negative behavior, he added. But the goal is to assist the majority of people who do not appear to be trying to “take advantage of the system.”
In all, there are 27,000 tickets outstanding on the city’s current 16-year-old system, but the city does have an 85 per cent collection rate for BC-licenced vehicles. In addition, over 50 per cent of the outstanding tickets are for vehicles that are registered in communities outside of Nelson.
McClure said the city has no authority to withhold an owner from renewing their driver licence, vehicle licence or insurance if they do not pay outstanding City of Nelson parking tickets since these renewals fall within the jurisdiction of the Province of BC and not the city.
Paying the piper
Those who want to take advantage of the amnesty can go to the City of Nelson website and click the “Online Payments” button that will take them a page that provides for payment of parking tickets from there they then select the “online services” link.
On this page a search can be made by licence plate and the ability to make an amnesty payment and eliminate any outstanding tickets.
For those that do not want to go the online route they can come into City Hall and one of the city’s customer service representatives will help.
There is also the option of calling City Hall at 250-352-5511 where staff will resolve any tickets.
— Source: City of Nelson