Why you really don’t have to pay that private lot parking ticket | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Why you really don’t have to pay that private lot parking ticket

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When a Kelowna nurse contacted us to explain that she got hundreds of dollars in parking tickets from a private lot, she felt she had no other choice to pay them.

She suspected she didn’t really have to pay them. Unfortunately for her, she was compelled, not by Impark or any other laws but because she was told she could lose her job for not obeying Interior Health’s parking policy.

Fortunately for everyone else, those tickets — often thousands of times higher than actual parking fees — don’t really have to be paid, according to our analysis.

READ MORE: Interior Health nurses are being buried in parking tickets during the pandemic

Impark, or any other private parking lot operator, has little or no power to force people to pay violation notices which, unlike municipal parking tickets, don’t have the same weight of the law behind them.

“They don’t sue anybody because it costs money and they wouldn’t be able to persuade a court that their damages are what they claim,” Vancouver-based lawyer Paul Doroshenko told iNFOnews.ca. “What are their losses? Their losses are the lost parking and the amount that is posted.”

In the KGH case, the fee for violating the parking rules by overstaying for even a few minutes is $69. But the price of an hour’s parking is only $1.50.

In 2016, Doroshenko ruffled feathers in the parking world by pointing out that the simplest way to get around the big fees parking companies attempt to collect was to write a cheque for the amount of time he overstayed and writing “in full and final settlement” on it. Once the cheque was cashed, the company had agreed to the settlement.

He’s never had that fail, nor have friends or family members who did the same thing. But, he’s not had a parking ticket for a few years so he was unsure if that technique will still work.

Paying by cheque may not even be an option anymore since Impark pushes for online payment (the company did not respond to repeated requests for more information).

Still, Doroshenko said, the only real and cost-effective option parking companies have is to take people to small claims courts. That’s the time for the violators to argue that the only damage to the company was an hour or two of unpaid parking.

Or, Impark can send the tickets to a collection agency.

“They (collection agencies) can’t just take your money.” Doroshenko said. “You’ve got to be willing to give it to them. If they make a complaint to a credit rating agency, like Equifax, you can write Equifax and say remove it.”

In fact, Equifax does not hold unpaid parking tickets against your credit rating.

“Collections agencies have been notified and are aware that tickets relating to motor vehicle offenses must be excluded from their data submission to Equifax,” Equifax said in an email.

Nor can the parking company get ICBC to help out, as is hinted at on their notice boards posted in their parking lots.

“By parking on this lot, you grant permission to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to provide registered owner information, including name and address, for the vehicle you are driving, to Imperial Parking Canada Corporation and its agents for the purpose of collecting unpaid parking fees and violation fees,” the sign at Kelowna General Hospital reads.

Impark (Imperial Parking Corporation) bills itself as one of the largest parking management companies in North America.

This sign doesn’t mean that ICBC has any role in the collection effort. It just means ICBC will supply the name and address for the vehicle owner.

“ICBC does not collect fines on behalf of private parking companies,” ICBC said in an email. “Unpaid parking tickets do not affect ICBC insurance including rates or the ability to renew insurance.”

The only information ICBC will release is the name and address, not the phone number. It will only give out such information if a violation notice has been issued and is unpaid.

The final move from Impark, therefore, would be to tow a multiple offender, but that’s not allowed unless specifically noted on its signage, Doroshenko said.

“They would have to make this clear in some way, that if you didn’t settle the previous debt with them, you’re trespassing if you park your vehicle on their lot,” he said. “That would have to be explained in some form and posted somewhere.”

That is definitely not posted on its signs at Kelowna General Hospital.

“If you park, but do not display a valid ticket or pass or do not pay for parking or are parked improperly or contrary to the posted rules, the violation fee is $69 per day or portion thereof and your vehicle may be towed and held for storage charges,” the sign reads.

This is the wording on the Impark sign next to the pay station at the Kelowna General Hospital public parkade.
This is the wording on the Impark sign next to the pay station at the Kelowna General Hospital public parkade.

On the other hand, Doroshenko said, you are required to pay to park.

“If you park on a parking lot and you actually intend to park your car there and not pay, that’s theft,” he said. “It’s obtaining parking by fraud or you’re trying to steal something that you’re not entitled to have. It’s like not paying your rent intentionally.

“So, yes, pay for your parking. If you get a parking ticket and you think it’s wrong, you can let them know you think it’s wrong and why it’s wrong.”

— This story was originally published on Jan. 12, 2021.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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