Out of control parking enforcement in Winnipeg including firelanes and issues contesting or appealing

Feb 22 2018 – Kevin Yaworski – WiseUpWinnipeg

Using the City of Winnipeg Open Data Systems and some in person investigation we have identified serious issues with manual and automated parking enforcement including in fire lanes when improperly sign posted and inadequate warnings or education.

Long but important message and call for action from all members and the many viewing who care about fair and lawful treatment of the public on the road in the court room as well as improving transparency and accountability in government and public services.

We will not be ignored or deceived when we are informed and work collectively with meaningful actions. Below is more info and then some suggested simple actions we can all do to make a difference.

Thanks to several members that helped document and investigate these issues. You deserve credit and if you would like to be named let me know and I will edit.

To join joint the discussion
https://www.facebook.com/groups/WiseUpWinnipeg/permalink/10154983495616222/

The open data system of CoW is showing a very large increase in the number of alleged parking tickets being issued manually, with the WPA automated camera vehicle(s) implemented and after recent legislation, bylaw and policy changes.

From reports and investigation we see the City of Winnipeg via WPA and For profit partner G4S Tech has been aggressively targeting and ticketing drivers / customers in zones unlawfully (missing, obscured or old signs) or unfairly (inadequate signage and little to no warning or education for drivers, business customers and owners about the costly tickets that are up to $300 if not paid on time).

For example – the 2,800 Fire Lane tickets (at $300 a ticket = $840,000) called ‘M26-Fire lane’ tickets issued in the 8 months since May, 2017 The new tickets only show a ‘Street Name’ – like St. Mary’s Rd – (the data for old tickets points to this being St. Vital Center). The number of Fire Lane tickets issued has jumped from an average of 34 per month from Jan, 2010 to April 2017 to 350 per month from May 2017 to Dec, 2017.

In fact, in December, 2017 – 445 Fire Lane tickets were issued for that one month. Seems we have a real problem with driver education to prevent these $300 Fire lane tickets being issued – which we are told is the real desire of the WPA – safety – not issuing tickets. However at $300 a ticket – that means the WPA can collect a cool $840,000… or $420,000 if everyone pays their ticket early..

This on top of a new legislation from the PC majority Provincial Government (some of which drafted by previous NDP majority gov) and Bowman lead City Council Bylaws that enabled the new WPA parking contesting and appeal process that has proven to be unfair, biased, error prone and arguably against charter rights. They recently expanded to include 700 other bylaw alleged violations to this new “streamlined” process.

The decision in the Judicial Review of KYZ ticketing without the signage or other requirements of the HTA is due soon. It also exposed many issues with the entire contesting and review process. The KYZ tickets already proven to be unlawful via appeal in QB that the City Lawyer “ducked out of” as per the Justice (no longer contested appeal) when they saw an unfavourable decision coming. It later proven via FIPPA that City COO Michael Jack (former City Lawyer) told then Deputy Mayor Counc. Janice Lukes and others at the City before the appeal that the tickets were not enforceable. They choose to continue to enforce until the FIPPA results exposed them and then they stopped enforcing but would not refund those that paid in good faith. Then last year they started aggressively enforcing again. Likely thinking they were covered by the new more difficult contesting process. This lead to WUW taking several steps to get it to Judicial Review. Since then the City Lawyer has tried to have the matter stayed or dismissed without valid reasons but the unbiased Justice wanted no part of that and allowed it to continue albeit with a step to give notice to the Provincial “appointed” adjudicator (not a requirement in the legislation but apparently a common courtesy).

Similar to what the City and Province did with Construction Zone tickets when workers not present before the misguided Brittany law / DCZ legislation brought into allow ticketing when workers not present which is the preferred time and almost the only time For Profit TSS / Xerox / Conduent enforce. Similar with Reduced Speed School Zones and Playgrounds. They only there when kids not around. They also did similar for other parking tickets that were issued unlawfully or not given proper legal notice of option to contest etc…

There is a a clear trend well documented in behavior that is unfair or unlawful that must end. If left unchecked it will only get worse including MPIC, CoW, WPS and GoM Road to Zero – Vision Zero strategy for 2017 – 2020 with plans for more reduced speed limits, automated and officer enforcement, legislation and policies that we exposed are focused more on “safety” revenue and less on real safety, engineering, public interest, society and the economy.

See summary of our response to this initiative / plan already in draft here:
Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg and MPIC supporting Road to Zero / Vision Zero Strategy – What this really means

https://yaworski.net/2017/10/08/province-of-manitoba-city-of-winnipeg-and-mpic-supporting-toward-zero-vision-zero-strategy-what-this-really-means/

Here is something you can do that will make a meaningful difference for at least this apparent parking / safety issue:

After reading above and if needed the following and you agree this is unfair or unlawful please contact your City Councillor, MLA, members of the City Infrastructure / Public Works committee and the Justice Minister about it.

We have contacted Counc. Matt Allard so far and his political aid acknowledged the email so we are waiting for a proper response. If he is your Counc. we encourage you to contact him as well.

Contact businesses you or others visit that are getting aggressively targeted with unfair or unlawful parking enforcement.

Say you will avoid their location or business and tell others to do the same if they continue to allow this behavior which is clearly against public interest. Consider contacting the mgmt of some of the stores you visit and give them the following contact info if they don’t have it.

e.g.
For St. Vita Mall:

Retail Manager
Kyle Waterman
Ph: 204.258.7024
Kyle.Waterman@cushwake.com

Marketing Director/Specialty Leasing Manager
Cindy Shack
Ph: 204.258.7025
Cindy.Shack@cushwake.com

General Manager
Cheryl Mazur
Ph: 204.258.7020
Cheryl.Mazur@cushwake.com

Operations Manager/ Construction Manager
Don Lombaert
Ph: 204.258.7022
Don.Lombaert@cushwake.com

More contacts here:
http://stvitalcentre.com/pages/svc-contact

Here is some more examples we were sent by members including the data that exposes this behaviour.

The new Dollarama by Ikea has all “no stop” fire lanes but there are mostly “no park” fire lanes in the established malls and some of them will have bylaw 150/2004, which use to be the old parking bylaw, but anything about parking is eliminated from that old bylaw. So any sign with that bylaw (150/2004) should not be enforced.

I just went all around St Vital Shopping Centre on Google maps and it is all No Parking for the fire lanes except for a short space in front of London Drugs and another spot near the loading area behind Walmart. That was as of July 2017 so unless they have changed out all of those signs they should not be issuing parking tickets there.

The WPA changed their web page on Fire Lanes to say at the bottom of the page they would ticket a car that is simply stopped in a fire lane if there was a ‘no stopping – fire lane’ sign posted. Now this means that cars dropping off handicapped passengers cannot stop – as that WPA ‘no stopping’ statement overrides their previous statement on the web page about ‘you are allowed to drop off passengers’. As usual for the WPA – they are in effect changing a bylaw – without council approval – as the fire lane bylaw is a ‘no parking’ bylaw – not a ‘no stopping’ bylaw.

http://theparkingstore.winnipeg.ca/theparkingstore/care/firelane.stm

To help demonstrate the escalating trend in behavior that is against public interest to say the least here is more info as well as the details from an active member about the open data system and parking tickets.

Here is local and national coverage of just some this more than just embarrassing behavior.

The worst places to park in Canada: Parking ticket traps, unfair tickets – CBC Marketplace and related
http://wp.me/p1fJaD-MF

Watch “The worst places to park in Canada: Parking ticket traps, unfair tickets (CBC Marketplace)” on YouTube
Nov 18 2016
Several parts involve Winnipeg throughout this episode

What are the worst places to park in Canada? Here’s the data on that
Nov 19th 2016
http://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.3854094

Unfair parking fees on private lots aren’t tickets — so you don’t need to pay them, expert says
Best to contact them to dispute the fairness but if they ignore don’t pay.
http://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.3851956

Regarding the parking meters, enforcement and related issues:
Best to look at all of this collectively and not just a few meter issues. btw it is not a few meters as I said in my original email. A former G4S Tech / WPA agent has said the meter issues have been going on for years and many still not repaired. Many issue reported to G4S and WPA but they most often choose to do anything about it.

Many of our member and the general public come to us as we listen and give them the facts and suggestions that can help lead to solutions. Many come to us after the system and their elected or appointed has failed them.
Below is some info from a member sent to us recently. The fire lane tickets when people stopped (not parked), picking up or dropping of elderly etc… when the sign says no parking only make matters worse. As the member says this should be better education.

We know the past amendments to SCA and Parking bylaw and the recent MBEA and POC legislation were meant to reduce delays but they are avoiding the root causes and causing even more distrust, loss of confidence and worse of the WPA, WPS, City, Province, MPIC and the Judiciary / Courts. This has much bigger impacts than most realise. It puts Police officers and the public at higher risk during heated situations and encourages some to committee acts of civil unrest. Not paying taxes, fees, fines especially when they much higher than they can afford (up to 6 times higher than anywhere in Canada). Many are at or below the poverty line and suspending their license for many unfair or unlawful tickets makes matters worse. If they need their license for employment it is a vicious cycle that only hurts them and their family.

Winnipeg has an extensive ‘open data’ system where – among other datasets – you can see a list of the 1,267,603 parking tickets issued by the city since Jan, 2010 at: https://data.winnipeg.ca/Parking/Parking-Contravention-Citations-/bhrt-29rb/data
You can filter and sort that dataset online -or- download the dataset and use a spreadsheet program to find trends and other data of interest.

One item that caught our attention is that the ‘M’ violation tickets – the ones issued by the new ‘ALPR” Mobile system (where the WPA camera car drives around and snaps photos of violator cars) – do not have the lat/long ‘location’ for the issued ticket. This prevents you from finding out where exactly better driver education is required to reduce tickets being issued.

—– Some of the following duplicated above —–
For example – the 2,800 Fire Lane tickets (at $300 a ticket = $840,000) called ‘M26-Fire lane’ tickets issued in the 8 months since May, 2017 only show a ‘Street Name’ – like St. Mary’s RD – so you have no idea as to where on St. Mary’s RD these tickets are being issued. One can infer where they were issued by looking at the lat/long Location for the 3,100 older fire lane tickets issued in the 89 months from Jan, 2010 to May 2017 (and that data points to St. Vital Center). The number of Fire Lane tickets issued has jumped from an average of 34 per month from Jan, 2010 to April 2017 to 350 per month from May 2017 to Dec, 2017.

In fact, in December, 2017 – 445 Fire Lane tickets were issued for that one month. Seems we have a real problem with driver education to prevent these $300 Fire lane tickets being issued – which we are told is the real desire of the WPA – safety – not issuing tickets. However at $300 a ticket – that means the WPA can collect a cool $840,000… or $420,000 if everyone pays their ticket early… just on Fire Lane tickets alone. That would be less any tickets that are cancelled due to someone using the ‘adjudication’ route. By the looks of it – very few people use the ‘adjudication’ route (only 0.01 %).
— end of partial duplicate —–

A list of the 160 adjudication decisions is available at: https://data.winnipeg.ca/Tickets-and-Adjudication/Adjudication-Results/hzdi-nwqn/data and one can filter that dataset to find other interesting data. Unfortunately – one cannot currently view the actual reason for each adjudication decision – to get at that ‘closed’ data – one has to go down to the WPA office (be sure to feed the parking meter!) fill in a form – and pay the WPA $10 – per decision.

I am sure that may change as our Mayor Bowman said: “Releasing information to the public should be the norm, the first thing that happens, unless there are valid privacy reasons not to.”

I also currently have an access to information request in to the city to get the lat/long for all ‘M’ tickets which are the ALPR mobile tickets including the M26Fire Lane tickets.

I also emailed Brian Mayes, my St.Vital councillor with links to the open data files and a spreadsheet showing that fire lane ticketing is out of control in Winnipeg since May, 2017 and that it appears the St. Vital Center is a hotspot of citizen insurrection as it appears to have a great many of the tickets. I suggested we should look into not just sending a ticket in the mail but having immediate towing of the scofflaw in addition to issuing a ticket. This would be the same as what is done with rush hour parking on major streets. My concern is this is a major safety issue that should be addressed by the city. I asked whether the issue should be brought up with the Community Committee or the Safety Committee.

— Note added: This was to make a point. Mayes would get huge blow back from the mall, businesses and residents so hopefully he does the right thing.

I also have another dataset I’m working on on T intersections where it appears that city is ticketing Vehicles along the top of the t. One example would be Alexander Avenue if you look at it in Google Maps you’ll see some T intersections on Alexander where parking is allowed along the through route of Alexander but it appears the city is ticketing cars that Park along the top of the T even though the rest of Alexander they allow parking.

There are hundreds of T-intersections that allow parking, especially in the downtown area, and a lot that will have “no stopping”/parking”. Until the new bylaw came out, the only T-intersections that were enforced were the ones that had no stop. William at Tecumseh would be one with a “No Stop” to allow large vehicles, fire truck for example, to make the turn. But Kennedy at Cumberland, Kennedy at Deacon, Deacon at Q’Appelle , Waverly at Greenwood (my area) are all T-Intersections that ALLOW parking.

These, in the 5 years a former G4S / WPA agent worked there, were never, ever ticketed for being in a T-Intersection and I worked it almost every 3 weeks. The new bylaw has just gotten ridiculous with “alleys” now becoming major intersection thus giving tickets out for being less than 3 meters from the intersection.

We picked up on this after downloading the new bylaw. It states” When complying with a traffic device…..” Parking signs are traffic devices. If you are obeying the signage, you should not get a ticket then for being in a T-intersection if the sign says you can park there.

Thanks again to all the active members helping on and offline, volunteering their time and sometimes money with handwork and actions that are helping inform others and make a meaningful difference in many different ways.

To get more informed, donate, volunteer and help make a difference visit http://www.wiseupwinnipeg.com
http://www.facebook.com/groups/wiseupwinnipeg.com – pinned post and nested links within

About Kevin Yaworski

I use my blog to write about things I find interesting or that I think are matter of public interest.
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