Q&A - New Westminster Parking Bylaw Dispute

Q&A ImageBylaw 6027 states "No person shall stop or park a vehicle within 2 meters of the nearest edge of the closest sidewalk on an intersecting street." There were no signs along this side of the street.

At adjudication the meaning of terms "closest sidewalk" and "intersecting street" meaning was in dispute.

Adjudicator declared suddenly I am not going to listen and I find you guilty. I was not allowed to dispute the evidence in the "Screening Report" nor was I allowed to proceed.

I am frustrated that the city bears no responsibility for having no signs. Where does the City responsibility begin or end on the issue of posting signs?

Comments

Bylaw 6027

New Westminster Street Traffic Bylaw No. 6027 (1991)

In the bylaw both sidewalk and intersection are defined. Whether one sidewalk was closer than the other would be testified to in evidence along with the status of the intersecting street by the ticket issuer. You would be able to comment on the definitions from your perspective. It would then be up to the adjudicator to decide how they applied to the situation.

I have no idea what occurred in your hearing, but from what you describe it would seem that the adjudicator decided that they did not require more input from you or the ticket issuer to decide the issue.

I have never heard of the term "screening report" in relation to a bylaw hearing. What is that?

Many of our traffic laws are imposed without the benefit of a sign to tell you what they are. Our provincial Motor Vehicle Act sets out distances for stopping/parking in section 189. They do not need a posted sign to be enforced either. It is a driver's responsibility to know the rules and follow them.

 

Screening Report

The screening report is a written report by a "screening officer" stating his findings after speaking to me by phone before an adjudication hearing. It is written by a different person of the same team accusing you. 

The screening report stated that I did not provide grounds to cancel the bylaw offense notice stating that "the current "Learn to Drive Smart" training booklet from ICBC states"... think ahead and find out the rules of the area you're traveling to". In response to the comment about driver's responsibility to know the rules and follow them, I asked anyone present in the court if before setting out on their trip before driving whether they would read the motor vehicle act or  any bylaws of the area they are traveling within and the response was that not a single person answered in the affirmative. I ask then why then am I being be judged by such standard and there was no response.

As for signs that do not need to be posted what is there to prevent a city to remove all the no parking signs along its street and fining all those who park there if it is within their right to do so? If there is no sign to indicate no parking then I could not have reasonably known what was required of me and failing to follow is not an offense.

Anyhow, the only avenues available to appeal the decision, is in Supreme Court on the grounds that the adjudicator made an error on the "question of law" or on "lack of jurisdiction." 

I would like some input about the adjudication hearing itself. This is the best of my recollection.First, I was asked if I understood the charge. I replied I did not. The adjudicator asked me to explain my version using the photographs taken of my car by the bylaw officer. I said the terms "nearest edge of the closest sidewalk" and "intersecting street" caused confusion. The closest sidewalk is the one against my car, and the intersecting street is also the street I was parked on because it intersects at the top and the bottom of the hill. The adjudicator said an intersecting street is an intersection. (It may be at an intersection but not necessarily so since it can intersect at the top and bottom of the hill as in my case but this was mentioned in the hearing). The adjudicator asked whether I went through the charge with the screening officer, and I said yes, after the fact and on looking at the wording on the bylaw I came to a different meaning. He asked if it was my car shown in the picture, and I said yes. He said he is going to find me guilty and he was not going to listen anymore to anything I have to say. I said how could you, since there are 2 interpretations  to the bylaw and how could he choose one? He said for me to stop., he had made his decision. He also said that the city does not have to put up any signs because if there were signs everywhere, you would not be able to do anything, to which I responded, I am not asking everywhere but in the 1100 block Auckland only. I further added that the city is not responsible for directing traffic and for pedestrian safety? to which he added, "I did not say that," to which I added, " that is what you are inferring though." At which point I left the hearing very upset.

A few days later, I was still upset and this did not diminish so this is why I am in the process of appealing the decision to the Supreme court. There are only 2 avenues open to appeal a decision and these are that the adjudicator made an error on the "question of law" or on the "lack of jurisdiction". I realize that a guilty verdict rests on a balance of probabilities but I feel I should still have been given the chance to question my accusers, especially photographic evidence. I felt the adjudicator should have first ruled on allowing or disallowing my version of interpretation of the bylaw. Then a trial should have been conducted. There was not a fair hearing because I was not given a chance to question witnesses and their evidence. This was simply a pronouncement of a guilty verdict or a rubber stamping of papers.

Can anybody see a violation of the question of law or the lack of jurisdiction in this case?

A question of law means that the adjudicator did not follow the proper rules in coming to his judgment.

A lack of jurisdiction means that it is not within the power of adjudicator because he cannot force the city to put up signs since the original cause of the violation was due to the negligence of the City in having signage at the location. It should be noted that if signage was present, there would be no ambiguity on either interpretations of the bylaw.

 

Jurisdiction

Lack of jurisdiction has nothing to do with the signs. Lack of jurisdiction would mean that the offence occurred in a place where the adjudicator is not designated to be responsible for or the offence is one that the adjudicator is not empowered to try.

lack of jurisdiction

Lack of jurisdiction can mean what you say concerning a place, but how about subject matter where an adjudicator is not empowered to rule over because the adjudicator was not given the jurisdiction to make a ruling on signs.

Thanks for your input.

 

Signs

An adjudicator can rule on signs, but only in the context of the law as it applies to the dispute. If the law requires that a sign be posted and it is not or it is obscured, then the adjudicator could find the accused not guilty because the sign is not properly posted.

The adjudicator cannot say that a law needs to be changed to require a sign and force the municipality to do so.

Signs

So you're saying that a sign has to written in the law and directed by law for it to be posted. So why is it that the City says they do have signs and curb markings relating to this bylaw, and such signs are posted elsewhere, but at this particular location there are no signs. How can the city  have it both ways meaning on the 1 hand if you disobey such a sign in one location you get a ticket, and if you unknowingly disobey because there is no sign you get a ticket? So if an adjudicator had 2 cases  where there is a sign and this was disobeyed, and in another where there is none, who is then guilty, or are they both guilty?

Clarification

What I am trying to say is that the justice has no power to tell the city that they have to have a sign.

You weren't ticketed for disobeying a sign, you were ticketed for disobeying a rule. Not all traffic rules need signs in order to be in effect.

signs

So the rule is the important point and not the sign. If there is a sign attach to the rule, the city is being courteous by giving notice with the sign as they do not have to do so. If there is no sign it is within the right to do so and they can still fine you. So signs are signs of courtesy while the rule is the foundation upon which signs rest. I am not arguing with the rule. However all rules have to be implemented by people and it is the interpretation and implementation by such persons of where a sign should or should not be placed, can this not be subjected to error? The uneven application (omission or presence) of signs in the same city for the same bylaw does produce an inequity since some are given notice and some are not. Some are punished and some are not due to the presence of signs.

The adjudicator states that the city does not have to put up signs, and this may be understandable now from the words you provided. Since a sign or a lack of a sign that a city does not have the responsibility to put up or not based on a law that is absolute. And as to why would an adjudicator do not recognize inequity due to non uniform application as signs as a cause and give the motorist the reasonable benefit, we can only wonder if the non monitory incentives may be greater.

Thanks for your input.

 

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