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New Winnipeg program trying to recoup costs from parking tickets

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The City of Winnipeg is cracking down on drivers with unpaid parking tickets.

According to a spokesperson, there are 7,204 people with three or more outstanding tickets, equating to $3.2 million owed.

“The city has around $11 million…to $12 million at any given time in outstanding parking tickets,” said Public Works Committee Chair Janice Lukes. “That’s a problem.”

To help curb the costs, the city launched a new program on Feb. 15 that targets recurring offenders.

Under the new policy, if you have three or more unpaid parking tickets and are parked illegally, the city can tow your vehicle. In order to get the car back, you’ll have to pay the towing fee and the illegal parking fine, but not the outstanding tickets.

“Right now, the city can’t put the parking ticket money on a tax bill,” Lukes said.

According to Lukes, the city is working with the province to find a way to include the fines in people’s property taxes.

“We do that with other things,” Lukes said. “If the grass is very long, (property owners) don’t cut the grass, the city has to come out and cut the private homeowners’ grass, we can bill a portion of that to the tax bill.”

CTV News reached out to the provincial government but was told it didn’t have anything to say as the program is a city bylaw.

One expert said he isn’t surprised the city is taking this route to recoup funds.

“When we have a situation where you’ve got a high percentage of people not paying tickets, we’ve got to find a way to collect those,” said Jino Distasio, an urban geography professor at the University of Winnipeg.

But Distasio noted something should be in place for those with a lower income who need their car but can’t pay the towing fee.

“That hammer of towing that car and impounding it is a real last resort if an individual can’t make other kinds of alternatives,” he said.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Public Insurance said the Provincial Offences Act wouldn’t apply in any cases related to the city’s new program. “Therefore, driver’s licences and/or vehicle registrations would not be impacted,” they said in a statement to CTV News.

Lukes said the city just wants people to pay their tickets.

The city said since notices were sent out to those with three or more unpaid tickets in early January, more than 600 people have paid up, adding up to a combined value of $169,000. 

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