‘Food for fines’ pitched as way to cover unpaid parking tickets


James Younger hopes to drive home to Victoria councillors the idea of turning unpaid parking tickets into food for the hungry.

Younger will pitch Victoria councillors Thursday on a so-called “food for fines” program.

It would allow people to make a cash or food donation to a food bank to cover the cost of unpaid parking tickets outstanding more than 30 days.

“I would feel better paying my tickets off if I knew there was going to be some good come out of it,” Younger said.

Mayor Lisa Helps said it’s an idea she would be prepared to look at.

“It’s not off the table, but it’s also not on the table at this point. But that’s why we have presentations from the public. Then council can react accordingly.”

She said if councillors are interested in having staff pursue the idea, it could be brought up during budget deliberations.

If it reached a point where the plan might be implemented, Helps said she would support the idea in the summer when food banks are empty as opposed to December “when everybody is giving to the food bank.”

Variations of the idea have been tried elsewhere.

In Lexington, Kentucky, those who donate 10 canned food items receive a $15 credit on citations. It’s a month-long program each year and when it began in 2014, more than 6,200 cans of food were donated.

Last year, Timmins, Ont., council voted to donate two weeks of parking ticket revenue to food banks. It amounted to about $8,000.

Whistler has run a Christmas season parking ticket amnesty program in December, allowing residents to settle any tickets older than 30 days for 50 per cent of the amount owing. For each parking ticket settled, Whistler makes a donation of $10 to the food bank.

University of Victoria libraries and campus security have run annual Food for Fines food drive programs in support of the Mustard Seed and UVic Students’ Society food banks.

Younger said he doesn’t believe the program should necessarily be restricted to the Christmas season.

“I can’t see a reason why people wouldn’t want to donate all year round and pay off their parking tickets,” he said.

“I’d like to see it as a year round thing on tickets which are over 30 days old.”

Victoria has about $1.1 million in outstanding parking tickets. Tickets that are unpaid are sent for collection after 61Ú2 months. Vehicles with eight or more unpaid tickets can be towed.


© Copyright Times Colonist

Source link