The city of Toronto launched a new way to dispute a parking ticket Monday and it doesn’t involve going to provincial court.
Kalli Chapman, director of prosecutions for the city, said the city hopes the new process for parking violation disputes will be faster, easier and more convenient for motorists.
Chapman said the Administrative Penalty System, as it is called, is an attempt to improve customer service.
Under the new system, motorists will no longer get a parking ticket. Instead, they will get a “parking violation notice” that will be handled by what the city is calling an “administrative review process.”
Chapman said motorists, instead of obtaining a trial date, will be able to go to one of two in-person locations, at Metro Hall or North York Civic Centre, or online, when they want to dispute a parking violation notice.
“The new process is going to be much speedier than the old process,” she said. “We are anticipating to be able to deliver the service in a much more efficient manner that is faster and easier for the public.”
But not everybody is happy with the new system.
John Papadakis, a paralegal and former city councillor, said the city is taking away the rights of residents to due process. He said he thinks Toronto Mayor John Tory and city council should explain to city residents why they are taking legal rights away and that lawyers will challenge the new system because he believes it is unconstitutional.
“No due process of law, no innocent until proven guilty, no evidence against you, no facing your accuser — it completely takes away your rights,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. It’s underhanded. And it’s sly.”
But according to Chapman, a new system was necessary because of the time involved in waiting for a court date and the amount of court resources taken up by parking tickets.
She said the system is expected to eliminate the nine-to-12 month wait for a trial date and eliminate pressure on the court system. She said it is designed to clear up court space for more serious matters.
“Very much, the city wants to make the channels open to the public to be able to challenge these parking violation notices in every way that they can,” she said. “We are not concerned with volumes. We’re concerned with providing better service.”
Under the new system, motorists will request a review online or in person, and a city screening officer can affirm, vary or cancel the penalty, and vary or cancel any fees. Officers can also provide motorists with additional time to pay the penalty, if required.
If motorists are not happy with a decision made by a screening officer, they can request a hearing with an Administrative Penalty Tribunal hearing officer. That officer is appointed by city council.
Chapman said the decision of the hearing officer will be final.
The city hands out an average of 190,000 parking tickets every month. In the past 10 years, the city has dealt with 1.8 million parking tickets through the provincial court system.