Q&A - Passenger Zones in Victoria

no parking signI received 5 parking tickets about 2 hours apart each on a work day right outside of my apartment. It is a quiet residential area, and I parked at the curbside where it stated residential parking. I was told by my building manager that it is okay to park there. What I found strange is a section cutoff by a very simple sign states Passenger zone. I have seen my neighbours park there and not got ticketed. Now that I know that they actually enforced the bylaw, and I'm aware of the misunderstanding and misleading information I got from my building manager, I want to know my chance of fighting it in traffic court. I have contacted the city of victoria parking review office, and they would take 2 away, leaving me with 3 fines in total. Now my argument is that, I was at work the whole day and I didn't see them until I got home. I want to pay but not all of them as I was not given a chance to resolve the problem until I got home. There is simply no way for me to know and 5 in a day is very punitive. I have only got 1 throughout my driving history and 5 in a day is a shock to me. The same officer issued 4 tickets to me, and made a note to let the next officer to keep issuing me tickets.

Even if I did violate the bylaw, I think I do deserve a second chance. It is misunderstanding of the signs and an innocent mistake at best. I'm from Vancouver and they have the ending of residential zone and a no parking sign (crossing out P) for loading zone/passenger zone which is very clear and unmistakable in my opinion. It is not a high traffic area where I'm blocking everyone's way. I live there and was told it was okay because there wasn't any parking spaces available at the apartment for me to rent.

Are there any comment or suggestions you have for me regarding this? Do you think I should make payment arrangements or argue in court? Is it easier for me to fight the fine but not the allegation? I don't know what to expect but I know I don't deserve this 'warm welcome' from Victoria. What disgust me more is that it was through a complain by my neighbours and knowing I live with those unsympathetic and unforgiving people. Leaving me a note on the windshield and I would have made sure I never do it again, and here I am, my housewarming gift of 5 tickets.

Comments

Answer

Here is the pertinent section from the City of Victoria Streets and Traffic Bylaw 09-079:

Passenger zone

70 (1) The driver of a vehicle must not cause or permit it to stop or remain standing in a Passenger Zone for

(a) longer than 3 minutes, and

(b) any purpose other than loading and unloading passengers.

(2) A separate offence is committed at the expiry of each 15 minutes that a vehicle is stopped or parked in a Passenger Zone in violation of this section.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), the driver of a single horse drawn sightseeing vehicle may park in a Passenger Zone on the west side of Menzies Street between Belleville and Quebec Streets.

(4) The driver of a single horse drawn sightseeing vehicle parked in a Passenger Zone described in subsection (3) must yield to a motor vehicle that requires the use of that Zone.

Since the bylaw considers a new offence to have taken place after 15 minutes, the bylaw enforcement officer was operating with proper authority when issuing multiple tickets.

From your explanation, it appears that the area was marked with a sign that was visible to you when you stopped. It is unfortunate that you received incorrect information when you inquired, but none of the people you mention are officials, so you cannot argue that you were misdirected by a person in authority. The fact that you felt compelled to ask others if it was OK to park there could be taken to infer that you felt that there might be a reason not to.

The City has canceled two of the tickets, so some consideration has been given. That was worth your effort.

Now you have to decide on how to deal with the other 3, pay them or dispute. I've never been involved in a bylaw ticket hearing, so I cannot share any direct knowledge with you. I can only assume that it operates as traffic court does and know that you are rolling the dice in a dispute. I might plead guilty, explain your reasoning and request a reduction in penalty. Of course, you could plead not guilty and follow the same logic if you are found guilty. It doesn't sound likely that you would win a dispute given the situation, but one never knows.

Follow Up Question

If I plead guilty but request a reduction in penalty, how likely it is for the judge to grant me that?

I believe there should be a certain fairness to the law, as technically the officer could have issued me 40 tickets for my 10 hour work day but that just sounds ridiculous to me. I asked to confirm that it's ok because I'm new, not because I doubt what I was told. Just like you visit someone's home as a guest, and you politely ask if you need to remove your shoes. That's all. Well, that is just my personal opinion and I understand no one else nor the law would care.

Answer

I really couldn't say with any certainty, but it happens regularly in traffic court, no reason that it shouldn't for a bylaw offence.

The reason for the repetitive opportunity for tickets is that plugging up a passenger zone tends to inconvenience more people more often.

I do appreciate your consideration though and agree that the law does need to be fair.

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