Forgiving the fines issued to Red Deerians who leave their parked cars on the street during snow plowing was discussed by city council on Monday — as well as potentially hiking these penalties.
Coun. Tanya Handley suggested letting citizens off the hook from paying these tickets if they agree to sign up for the city’s automatic notification system. This means they would get advance warnings of future snow plowing and street cleaning schedules.
Kelly Kloss, development services director for the city, said her idea was worth considering as the city is seeking incentives to get more people to sign up for this system.
He compared Handley’s concept to the Toys for Tickets program that allows motorists who get parking tickets to buy a toy for the Christmas Bureau instead of playing their fine.
But Kloss added this could not take effect until all of its implications are studied so cannot happen this winter.
Although some Red Deerians consider parking tickets to be a cash cow for the city, a report done by the Public Works department indicates the opposite is true.
The cost of hiring commissionaires to issue tickets and tow trucks to remove these cars actually costs the city about $56,000 more than the revenue gained from the paid parking tickets, said Public Works Manager Greg Sikora.
His department is looking at the possibility of increasing the cost of parking tickets to reduce these cost overruns.
Red Deerians who leave their cars in the street during a parking ban, are now fined $65. If towing is needed, the cost jumps to $135 — with a $35 reduction offered for early payment.
Another consideration is eliminating all ticketing for parking on neighbourhood streets.
Edmonton‘s snow clearing program does not involve any parking bans — trucks just plow around parked vehicles. But Sikora’s department does not recommend this option as it would result in roads that are in poorer condition.
While no decisions were made on Monday about changes to the city’s ticketing program, city council unanimously approved a pilot program that could see most neighbourhood streets being plowed twice during the winter instead of the previous once.
Clearing can be done sooner, when snow pack is 5 cm to 10 cm. Neighbourhood roads would have a three-metre strip plowed in each traffic lane down to the pavement, with two small windrows left on either side of the street.
Residential collector roads and bus routes would have the entire street cleared down to pavement, but some costs would be saved by not chipping ice from the gutters.
Sikora said these changes should please people who wanted their neighbourhoods plowed more often, and earlier in the winter.