ICBC fine collection has its upside 0
Earlier this week, Minister of Transportation Blair Lekstrom tabled legislation that would finally allow TransLink to collect millions of dollars in unpaid fines.
If enacted, these new legal provisions will prevent transit scofflaws from renewing their driver's licence or getting basic car insurance without first settling their debts.
One key provision should also translate into better bus service. It's the section of Bill 51 that directs which level of government or agency gets to pocket all that money.
Currently TransLink is responsible for issuing tickets and ICBC collects the outstanding penalties. However, those funds then flow directly into B.C.'s general revenue. Lekstrom's legislation will take every dollar collected for these infractions and re-invest it directly into public transit.
If you ask me, it makes financial sense to have ICBC collect transit fines and more. Every city and municipality in B.C. has plenty of penalties that don't get paid: parking tickets, tree cutting violations, unlicenced pets.
Back in 2008, former attorney general Geoff Plant was Vancouver's Project Civil city commissioner. Plant openly lobbied Victoria to persuade ICBC to collect millions in unpaid fines owed to the
City of Vancouver. As with TransLink, cities also struggle with the same issue of collecting on debt owed.
At the time, both former mayor Sam Sullivan and Plant tried to convince the province that developing a new revenue-sharing agreement was in everyone's best interest. Yet former premier Gordon Campbell and ICBC were both unsupportive of the crown corporation being transformed into a quasi-collection agency.
In response to Vancouver's ICBC proposal, Campbell said, "the city sets its bylaws, the city sets its enforcement procedures and the city should discover how they can do that without using ICBC."
A spokesperson for ICBC echoed the premier's concerns and stated, "ICBC really isn't interested in getting into the business of collecting fines for municipalities or cities."
ICBC should continue to collect the transit fines.
It's been said a creative solution might be for Victoria to collect unpaid fines owed to Metro Vancouver municipalities, then invest 50% of those 'new' funds into TransLink. The remaining amount could be equitably split between the various cities and Victoria.
With spare tax dollars in short supply these days, employing ICBC to collect fines would be a kind of win-win proposal the B.C. government should take a hard look at.
Daniel Fontaine is a co-founder of CityCaucus.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.