A Toronto driver is questioning the reasonableness of the city’s administrative fine system for appealing to traffic disputes after raising concerns about his fake ticket for several months – but was left spinning the wheels.
It was only after CTV News Investigates checked the apparent non-stop vandalism that got parking attendants to start making tickets where parking had been allowed for years that the city gave in, overturned his $ 100 ticket and fixed the sign. .
“I gathered a whole lot of evidence, the city codes, took measurements, sent pictures and went beyond that,” Myles Loosley-Millman said.
“I thought, ‘this is a slam dunk, this should be fixed right away.’ But it did not happen, “he said after a month-long trial that disillusioned him.” I discovered in this court that no one matters. You were basically guilty if you were there. “
The bureaucratic nightmare began in November when Loosley-Millman parked in her usual spot outside the Swansea Community Recreation Center. He found a ticket on his dashboard.
“I took a swim and came back and saw that every single car was booked. I thought that could not be right,” he said.
The ticket cited a stop ban pointing east on Waller Avenue. But right next door there were signs that allowed parking in the same direction.
Myles Loosley-Millman is seen in this photograph next to a parking sign where he was given a ticket.
A Google Street View image showed the sign pointing in the opposite direction, to the west, in a photo taken a year ago, accidentally with a CTV News-tagged vehicle legally parked in a similar location.
City rules that specify where each stop sign is located in Toronto described a situation where a stop sign should point in the other direction.
And on closer inspection, a sticker had been put over the part of the sign that could simply be the wrong place.
Looley-Millman said he made these arguments in the administrative criminal court, but they fell on deaf ears. The hearing officer reduced the fee to $ 65, but did not cancel the ticket. And it was signposted for several months.
That hearing is the end of the line of appeal. About five years ago, Toronto City dealt with a backlog of hundreds of thousands of parking appeals in court by bringing it all home.
The switch to an administrative criminal court saved about $ 2.8 million annually. Instead of judges, there are hearing officers.
The system can be faster and cheaper, says Mark Breslow, an associate attorney who mainly deals with traffic tickets. But he said that without legal protection, it could be much less fair.
“Once they’ve got you, they’re got you,” Breslow told CTV News Toronto in an interview, adding that finding a person guilty of an offense without stopping in a non-stop zone is something , a court should catch – especially one without appeal.
“How can you convict someone of an offense that does not exist and then has nowhere to go?” he asked.
The city said it is not a kangaroo court, pointing to its independence and that its 25 public panel members have been appointed by the city council.
City figures show that out of 9,077 hearings requested in 2021, officials canceled 1,300 tickets, varied 2,385 and confirmed 1,395. The rest, almost 4,000, were stuck in a new, smaller backlog.
The city said it usually does not comment on specific disputes, but promised to take a “second look” on Wednesday. A spokesman returned a few hours later with his conclusions: the ticket would be overturned.
“The chairman of the Administrative Criminal Board has reviewed the case and the notice of violation (parking fine) has been canceled as the sign had been altered in an inappropriate manner. City staff have since responded on the spot and corrected the signs,” a spokesman said.
A photo taken at the site on Wednesday shows that the sign has changed direction, now in line with the past and with the city’s rule books.
A photograph of a parking sign taken on June 22, 2022 shows an arrow pointing in a different direction than just a few weeks ago. (Jon Woodward)
Loosley-Millman said he was happy to have the ticket canceled. But he said he did not do it for the sake of money – he did it to illustrate the lack of justice.
‘It’s nonsense. “They find that they want to get media attention and then solve a problem that they have known about for months,” he said.
It’s not yet clear what action the city will take over the other drivers who got tickets on that route, and whether anyone else will get a refund after reviewing a system that says it gives the last word on tickets – apparently almost all the time .