Toronto City Council has released previously confidential guidelines for cancelling parking tickets.
The manual allows city staff to void tickets for a host of reasons, including to give "consideration for medical reasons, age, unusual circumstances, ignorance of by-law etc" - especially for people who live more than 100 kilometres from Toronto.
"Our responsibility is to provide information to the public and to ensure that matters going to trial are of a significant nature," the 18-page document says.
The guidelines instruct staff to consider drivers' "circumstances and/or explanation" and any documentation. They should also review customers' licence plate history for previous parking infractions.
"Where sufficient explanation and/or documentation are presented and it is reasonable to assume the circumstances outlined are likely to have occurred, staff is expected to give the recipient the benefit of the doubt. Where no prior tag history is evident, staff is encouraged to withdraw the ticket," the manual says.
The release of the confidential document Tuesday night was the subject of wrangling between some city councillors who argued it should be made public and bureaucrats who thought it should remain secret.
Depending on the circumstances, city staff can cancel parking tickets for the following groups:
- drivers who get more than one ticket within a three-hour period for the same offence and pay the first ticket
- people who park on the wrong side of the street during regular change-over dates
- drivers with disabled parking permits
- city councillors on official business
- delivery trucks and fast-food delivery vehicles
- municipal vehicles
- tour buses
- nursing agencies
- security companies
- utility vehicles
- stolen vehicles
In many cases, drivers seeking to cancel parking tickets must provide supporting documentation. For example, the guidelines require the owner of a ticketed delivery vehicle to present a letter signed by a manager on the company's letterhead stating the vehicle was making a delivery at the time of the infraction in addition to the original waybill matching the particulars of the incident.
In addition, religious groups attending worship services can contact Toronto Police in advance for parking exemptions.
The guidelines say that fines can be cancelled if parking enforcement officers fail to include all required information on the tickets, issue tickets in error or if there was a defective meter.
The manual also notes that under current legislation, the city is "unable to obtain conviction" for parking tickets issued to drivers whose vehicles are registered outside Ontario. However, customer service agents are instructed to "accept payments if offered."