Rossland introduces new traffic bylaw

Right now it costs more money to write a ticket than the city gets from the fine, says a councillor

Chris Bowman says as Rossland grows and becomes more congested, stronger traffic enforcement is needed. File photo

Parking illegally in Rossland is soon going to cost you more than a coffee and muffin at the local coffee shop.

City council gave first reading to a new traffic and highways bylaw at its last meeting. It’s the first update of the law in nearly 20 years.

“It’s been something that’s been due to happen for quite a long time,” says councillor Chris Bowman.

Right now being a driving scofflaw is relatively cheap. Parking over the time limit, blocking a fire hydrant, loading zone, or a bus stop, only carries a $7 fine.

And that’s reduced to $5 if you pay early.

“It costs more money to write the ticket than we’ll get from the fine,” says Bowman, who chaired the last council meeting as acting mayor.

Indeed, the staff report to council says that so far this year, the city has issued fines totalling $245. Only $60 of that has been collected.

“The philosophy of bylaw enforcement in most jurisdictions is to educate and to gain voluntary compliance,” the city report states. “Notwithstanding this philosophy, there are situations that necessitate a firmer response or a next step after education and voluntary compliance does not result in the desired outcome.

“Voluntary compliance is also cost‐effective, but it is important to take a firmer position when necessary or over time local government’s bylaws will lose credibility and buy‐in.”

“We try to get people to not do things out of the goodness of their heart, but sometimes we have to have a little more teeth to enforce safety and things like that,” summarizes Bowman.

The new bylaw updates, clarifies, and modernizes the city’s traffic rules, cleaning up technical and legal language.

And boosting fines. Big time.

Parking in a loading zone will cost $100, $50 if paid early. Parking in a disabled parking spot $200, half that if paid early. Simple parking infractions will cost $50, and if you pay early $25.

While the city steps up penalties, it could also face higher costs enforcing them. Staff say they’ll monitor that situation.

“Workloads associated with enforcement, program set‐up, follow‐up, processing tickets and disputes will most likely increase,” says the staff summary. “Any increase to workloads and/or costs associated to public education, updating ticket inventory, enforcement, ticket processing and dispute resolution will be built into existing workloads and assessed at a future date in order to assess resources required.”

Despite the heftier fines, staff say they don’t expect fines to become a major source of city revenue.

Speed limits

The bylaw will also look at standardizing and reducing some speed limits, says Bowman.

The standard speed limit in the city will be 30 km/hr. In school zones, alleys and construction zones it will be 20 km/hr. It will also be 20 km/hr on streets congested by parking and approaches to corners on streets where children walk to school.

“It’s so important, every time I walk around Rossland there are more family and kids and people,” he says. “And we don’t need to go that fast in our neighbourhoods.”

The new bylaw passed first reading. Council will discuss it at future meetings, with an eye to passing the new bylaw in November.

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