Parking fines go unpaid in Penticton

Penticton bylaw officers have handed out more than $1 million worth of parking tickets over the past five years

Dena Swann faithfully feeds parking meters after catching a break from a bylaw officer a year ago. Not everyone has been so lucky

Dena Swann faithfully feeds parking meters after catching a break from a bylaw officer a year ago. Not everyone has been so lucky

Just over $1 million worth of parking tickets have been issued by Penticton bylaw officers in the past five years, but the city has only collected a third of that amount.

Between Jan. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2012, rule-breakers paid a total of $358,272 in fines on tickets worth $1,045,689, according to figures provided by the city. The fines go into general revenue.

About half the total face value of the tickets, $513,642, was written off in the form of discounts for early payment, which turns a $35 fine for parking in front of an expired meter into a $10 penalty if paid within 14 days.

Another $21,508 was cancelled after tickets were reversed, usually due to a meter malfunction, while another $2,280 was credited back to people who overpaid.

That still leaves $155,824 in outstanding fines that the city is virtually powerless to collect. About the only thing it can do is make life difficult for repeat offenders by towing vehicles or referring overdue tickets to a collection agency.

Ken Kunka, the city’s building and permitting manager, said if a vehicle with three outstanding tickets is cited for a fourth, a tow truck is also called. The vehicle owner then has to pay towing and storage fees to have the vehicle released, but not the tickets that prompted the hook.

“That’s something that the city is working towards,” Kunka said.

Dena Swann, a Naramata woman who visits Penticton often, was surprised to learn how much money drivers owe on unpaid tickets. She said it should give the city pause to reflect on whether it’s even worth it to keep up the fight.

“Does it really make sense to have paid parking? I guess that question would come up,” she said last week, after pulling into the metered parking in front of Penticton City Hall and promptly depositing 50 cents to keep her car safe while she ran errands.

Swann said she has faithfully paid the tolls since catching a break about a year ago from a bylaw officer who caught her with a freshly expired meter.

“She just said, ‘Oh, it looks like you kind of forgot,’” Swann recalled.  “And she said, ‘OK, we’ll just let it go this time.’”

That bit of charity caught Swann by surprise, “so I took it as a gift and chose to pay from that point forward.”

Kunka said bylaw officers are encouraged to have a heart when it’s a close call or if extenuating circumstances, like a medical emergency, are to blame for a parking violation.

“There has to be room for common sense and that’s what we try to do,” he said. “But there’s also regulation and rules that if they get bent too often it’s hard to keep a fair and even line for everyone.”

Parking offences and fines have been trending upward since 2008, when 5,087 tickets were issued that netted the city $58,403. By 2011, the volume of tickets increased to 6,843 and payments totalled $82,100. Through the first eight months of 2012, there were 5,478 tickets issued and $60,000 in fines collected.

Kunka said both enforcement staffing and fine amounts have remained relatively stable over that time, so he was at a loss to explain the rising numbers. He said, though, that it’s a function of how much time bylaw officers spend on traffic patrol, rather than investigating other complaints like property offences.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The proposed Skaha Lake Road housing project will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St., said BC Housing.
BC Housing panel peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

Virtual meeting involved questions about crime, level of supports, timelines

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

Landmark Cinemas Penticton was forced to close down when the provincial government ordered all theatres to close when new COVID-19 restrictions were brought in Nov. 19, 2020. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Despite ‘devastating’ losses the show will eventually go on at Penticton theatre

Landmark Cinemas has been offering movie popcorn since having to close in November

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

This is rendering of what the playground of the new provincially funded child care centre could look like on Edmonton Ave.
Public hearing for childcare centre rezoning Feb. 1

The Edmonton Ave. facility would add 116 more childcare spots

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Couple living at Summerland resort facing increases

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

Police are seeking further witnesses after an elderly woman who was struck by a vehicle in Salmon Arm succumbed to her injuries. (File Photo)
Salmon Arm pedestrian dies after being hit by truck along Highway 1

Collision took place on Jan. 15 in downtown Salmon Arm, police looking for witnesses

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Moose chases two people near North Okanagan school

Conservation and dog control attending to the situation

The sale of the Kirschner Mountain Development for $22M marks the largest in Realtor history, in the Okanagan. (Contributed)
Kelowna mountain development sold for $22M

The sale of the 640-acre Kirschner Mountain development has made the history books

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read