Cranbrook City Hall.

City eyes new dispute resolution system for bylaw infractions

The City of Cranbrook is eyeing a new procedure to resolve disputes, particularly in light of uncollected fines from a parking metre bylaw, which is estimated to be in excess of $90,000.

City staff are working on implementing a Dispute Adjudication System, a mechanism that is more cost-effective than processing and disputing parking tickets through the court system, according to a staff report.

The DAS was a dispute resolution tool first enacted in 2003 through provincial legislation as a pilot project. Since then, cities including Nelson Vernon, and Kelowna are using it to recover bylaw infractions.

Currently, bylaw infractions are processed through the Municipal Ticketing Information System Bylaw, which requires that enforcement disputes move through the court system.

Under the DAS process, personal service is now required, a bylaw notice can be placed on a windshield or mailed to a bylaw offender. A compliance agreement, a resolution authored by a screening officer appointed by Council, can be unique to each infraction and allow an option for monetary fines.

If a compliance agreement cannot be made, court services will appoint an adjudicator. An adjudication hearing can take place at city hall and the issuer of the ticket and offender are not required to attend. The hearing can be conducted by phone or through written submission.

City staff are also preparing to purchase a vehicle immobilization device, a “boot” that will immobilize vehicles known to have at least two parking tickets ore more.

Cities such as Kelowna and Trail are utilizing a “boot” system and have seen a dramatic increase in the payment of fines and willingness to pay meter fees, according to the report. Staff are proposing a $100 fee before the boot is removed from a vehicle.