The City of Toronto moved today to clear up a backlog of more than a quarter-million parking tickets. But if you think the move will net the cash-starved city any additional revenue, guess again.
For the past couple of years, it’s been easy to make parking tickets disappear. A while ago I got an evil yellow flapper under my windshield wiper. I schelpped down to Metro Hall, 55 John Street, and asked for a court date. The attendant said, “you may or may not hear from us.” I haven’t heard from them.
In the past two years motorists have filed 250,000 requests to contest such $30 parking tickets, but only 4,300 have received trial dates. Today I looked up Barry Randell, Toronto’s Director of Court Services, at his office on University Avenue to find out what was going on.
Toronto’s 24 courtrooms — eight at Old City Hall, nine at 1530 Markham Road, and seven at 2700 Eglinton Avenue W., simply don’t have room to process those trials, Mr. Randell said.
“When you’re in the emergency department and you have a broken arm, you will get priority over someone with a sprained ankle,” he explained.
Even those with more serious offences (the ones that actually make it to trial) are benefiting from the court backlog. Today I popped into a traffic court on the third floor at Old City Hall and watched the Justice of the Peace, his worship Angelo Cremisio, withdraw or stay case upon case. In several cases the police officer who laid the charge has since resigned; in others, the judge accepted a Charter of Rights argument of “unreasonable delay” between the charge and the court date. He deemed 13 months’ wait unreasonable.
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