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Ottawa cannot issue parking fines based on an individual's income or vehicle value, city says

A parking ticket is seen on the windshield of a car in Ottawa, Ont. (CTV News Ottawa) A parking ticket is seen on the windshield of a car in Ottawa, Ont. (CTV News Ottawa)

The City of Ottawa is hitting the brakes on the idea of imposing parking ticket fines based on the driver's income or the value of the vehicle, saying the city doesn't have the power under existing legislation.

However, staff say the city's new Administrative Penalty System to be implemented next year will allow officials to take "financial hardship" into account to reduce fines or create a payment plan.

Coun. Shawn Menard asked staff to look into a "sliding scale for parking fines that is geared to income, or other potential proxies for ability to pay."

"For the luxury car illegally parked near Lansdowne, a parking fine might just be the price they are willing to pay to attend an event, for others, a parking ticket fine could be the difference between them being able to afford their grocery bill at the end of the month," Menard said.

"Other jurisdictions have addressed this inherent inequality through introducing a system of fines geared to income."

In response to Menard's inquiry, the general manager of emergency and protective services says the legislation "does not permit that the penalty be issued based on an individual's income or vehicle value."

Kim Ayotte does say regulations under the Municipal Act aim to ensure that the fines are "not punitive in nature and are focused on promoting compliance with the designated bylaw." Ayotte adds the legislation does allow a screening officer or a hearing officer to consider financial hardship "with the possible result of alternative payment options."

The city is set to implement a new Administrative Penalty System in 2025 for parking tickets and red light camera and speeding violations. When a ticket is issued, an individual has the right to request the matter to be reviewed by a screening officer via the administrative process. 

Ayotte says while a sliding scale for parking fines is "not feasible" under Provincial Legislation, the Municipal Act will allow officers to vary the amount of the penalty or extend the payment period. The memo for the finance and corporate services committee says during a review of an administrative penalty, an officer has the authority to cancel or reduce the administrative penalty, fees or both if the offender proves "undue hardship" or provide an extension to pay the fine.

Menard noted Finland has implemented a sliding-scale model for speeding tickets that is based on the offender's disposable income. Top Stories

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