Last week, the City of Toronto's ombudsman, Fiona Crean, released An Investigation into the Parking Ticket Dispute System in Toronto. It's a 50-page report on how tickets are administered. While it's a Toronto report, many of its findings would be true in other cities.
Here are few of her conclusions:
"The current system focuses on two groups – those paying their ticket and those with a dispute that require a trial. …While I realize these groups constitute the vast majority, the system does not in my view adequately recognize or serve recipients who have questions, concerns or disputes, but who do not need a trial to address those concerns."
Excuse me? "Does not in my view adequately recognize" – those are strong words! I disagree with Ms. Crean; parking tickets are easy to understand and offer numerous opportunities for citizens to exert their rights.
Doubt me? See for yourself. Here's the Road Sage Parking Ticket. I'm sure you'll agree nothing could be simpler or user-friendly.
IMPORTANT NOTICE – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.DO NOT take this notice to a police station
If you do not pay the voluntary payment amount on the front of the notice within seven days, OR pay the set fine amount within 15 days, GUESS WHAT? IT DOESN'T MATTER.
Even if you deliver a Notice of Intention to Appear in Court within 15 days, WE WILL LOSE IT but EVEN IF WE DON'T and you appear for your trial you will be deemed TO BE REALLY GUILTY and a conviction may be entered against you. AND THE BAILIFF WILL SNICKER AT YOU.
Upon conviction (TRUST US, YOU WILL BE CONVICTED) you will be required to pay the set fine plus court costs PLUS MAYBE WE'LL MAKE YOU DO 20 PUSH-UPS. An administrative fee is payable if the fine goes into default PAY THIS IN CASH TO THE PARKING OFFICER ON THE DAY THAT YOU GET A TICKET ON YOUR CAR AND THEN FORGET ABOUT IT. The information may be provided to a credit bureau and/or a collection agency, if the appropriate amount is not received within the prescribed time.
You MUST CHOOSE ONE of the following options:
Option 1 – is available only if a Voluntary Payment amount is shown on the front of this notice.
I do not wish to dispute the charge. I, unworthy wretch that I am, bow down on bended knee before the mighty parking gods. I gratefully enclose the voluntary payment amount indicated for the offence on the front of this Notice.
Option 2 – Set Fine Payment
I do not wish to dispute the charge. I am guilty, guilty, guilty! I parked at 4:01 on a side street. Set the fine. I'll pay it gladly.
Option 3 – Pre-Payment
Not only do I not wish to dispute the charges. I also wish to pre-pay for future tickets. I conclude this request by invoking the "Parking Ticket Prayer."
"Our parking, which is forbidden 5:15 and 6:23 Monday thru Wednesday
from the 1-15 of each Month, November-April.
How will we figure thee out?
Our meter's run.
Our time is done.
Since it expired at eleven.
Give us this day our daily bill.
And charge $30 for our trespasses
As we report those who trespass against us
Park not in "no standing"
And deliver us from the tow.
For thine are the bylaws
And the power,
And the income,
Option 4 –Trial Option – You CANNOT set a trial date by mail.
Option 5 –Trial Option – Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate! (Abandon all hope ye who enter here)
If you are requesting a trial or wish to dispute the issuance of the Parking Infraction Notice, you or your representative must bring this notice to one of the following locations.
First, organize a party of warriors and be sure to include amongst them a number of dwarves and elves. These will surely help when it comes to defeating the necromancers and the goblin tribes who inhabit the far reaches. Walk west many thousand leagues across the Great Mountains, avoiding the giant spiders. Be warned: the woods along the "Great Pass" are guarded by "Smagon the Great," a terrible fire-breathing dragon as ageless as wickedness itself, plus he tickets immediately after six.
Take whatever surviving members of your party are left with you to:
Parking Tag Operations West
Town Civic Centre
1299 Queen Street
Hours of Operation at Above Location:
Monday-Friday 11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p,m.
Closed Statutory Holidays, most Thursdays, some Tuesdays and all Fridays
Now cast your ticket into the great chasm and await your doom.
General inquiries regarding errors on a Notice, stolen vehicles, parking permits and/or Accessible Parking Permits, failed bribes, lost elves, failed encounters with necromancers, including inquiries from persons residing more than 100 kilometres from city and/or Great Mountains, should be directed to Parking Tag Operations at 1-866-YOU-LOSE.
As you can see it's clear and concise. So, with all due respect to Ms. Crean and the other ombudsmen around Canada, hands off our tickets. When it comes to parking disputes, there is no improvement necessary.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy