- BC Games
It's illegal to park on a paved shoulder
I had a chance to see some of the inner workings of the ticketing system used by the Township of Langley bylaw enforcement department on Sept. 5, as I challenged a parking ticket I had received on March 9.
In order to challenge a ticket, you need to file a notice that you wish to have the matter adjudicated. Adjudication sessions take place periodically in the council chambers — likely not more than a couple of times a year.
The adjudicator is not an employee of the Township and has a background in mediation and arbitration. I found the process quick, and very interesting. It did not have the formality of a court session, nor the legal wrangling. It was simple and straightforward.
There were about half a dozen of us challenging tickets that we had received. Challenges could not be based on a technicality, nor does the adjudicator have the power to throw out a bylaw, as could happen in a court.
In my case, I was charged with breaking the Township’s highway and traffic bylaw, no. 4758. The bylaw states that you cannot stop or park a vehicle on a paved shoulder, or a boulevard. Given that people are parking on paved shoulders of roads all the time in Langley, I found this section of the bylaw and the ticket very puzzling.
We had parked on 202A Street just south of Mountain Secondary, as we had been invited to attend a youth soccer game. There were numerous games going on that Saturday morning, and the parking lot at Mountain was quite full.
As other drivers had parked along the street, and I had parked along that street before, during the 2012 International Festival, it seemed logical to park there. We pulled well off the roadway, with the right side of the car on the gravel area, and the driver’s side on the paved shoulder.
We were there about two hours. When returning to the car, we noticed a $50 ticket attached to our windshield, and to others parked along the street. There are no “no parking” signs posted on that portion of the street.
I went home and looked up the relevant bylaw. When I saw that it was considered an offence to park on a paved shoulder, I decided to challenge the ticket.
The argument I made to the adjudicator was that no citizen can reasonably know that he or she cannot park in such a place, in the absence of “no parking” signs. People park on paved shoulders of roads all over the Township, and in other communities.
The bylaw officer who wrote the ticket said he had given out the tickets because there had been complaints from people living near 200 Street and 72 Avenue. They said it was hard to walk or cycle along 202A Street, due to cars parked there.
He said e-mails had been sent to soccer associations, advising them of residents’ concerns. We aren’t members of these associations, so had no way to discover the Township’s concerns.
The officer agreed that his photos show my car was parked in such a way to leave enough room for pedestrians to get by, but said he ticketed all vehicles parked there to be consistent.
Another bylaw officer told the adjudicator it was the duty of Township residents to be familiar with all bylaws. This makes no sense — no one knows every detail of all the bylaws, including members of council and bylaw officers. There are far too many bylaws for anyone to be fully familiar with every detail in all of them.
The adjudicator asked a number of questions about the absence of signs. He was told that the engineering department had been made aware of the residents’ concerns, but has not put up signs on 202A Street and has no plans to do so any time soon.
He threw my ticket out.
I appreciated the ability to point out the circumstances of the case, and I urge anyone else who gets a ticket to challenge it, if the circumstances surrounding it are as unclear and confusing as the ones I faced.
If you challenge a ticket and lose at the adjudication hearing, you must pay another $25 towards the cost of the process. The Township informs you of this when you first challenge the ticket. In my case, I was quite prepared to pay that additional fee because I felt the ticket was unfair, and I wanted to have my say.
Others may simply prefer to pay the ticket — and given the few people who were at the adjudication session, it seems that’s what most people do.