01/30/2013 01:13 EST | Updated 04/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Trail scofflaws to face wheel trouble as unpaid tickets could lead to boot

TRAIL, B.C. - Scofflaws in Trail, B.C., beware; the boot beckons if parking tickets go unpaid.

Councillors in the southeastern B.C. city say the immobilizing device is expected to be shoehorned onto downtown streets as Trail struggles to collect more than $150,000 worth of unpaid fines racked up over the last four years.

Council is preparing to adopt a traffic bylaw amendment that would allow use of the device, in hopes of convincing more drivers to pay parking tickets.

In 2012, the percentage of paid tickets dropped to 42 per cent, down from 63 per cent four years ago, amounting to $43,000 in unpaid fines last year, alone.

"This isn't being entered into lightly," said councillor Kevin Jolly. "I'm not in favour of this type of measure. But if you look at the recovery rate ... and over $43,000 in uncollected parking tickets in the city of Trail, essentially what is happening is people are disregarding (tickets) because there is no implication if they do."

"It is ineffective to continue to issue violation notices to vehicles ... if these parking tickets are going to remain unacknowledged," city corporate administrator Michelle MacIsaac told council Monday night.

She said the boot — a clamp that surrounds a vehicle wheel, preventing removal of both itself and the wheel — is already on order.

"There are a lot of people who are thinking this is just a joke," said Mayor Dieter Bogs about the current ticket system. "When you are only collecting 40 per cent of the tickets that are being issued, that is totally unsatisfactory."

Over 1,900 statements were mailed the week of Jan. 21 to those with unpaid parking tickets to encourage payment, and give them a clean slate before the immobilizer arrives.

Anyone unlucky enough to find themselves stalled by the boot will have to pay the initial ticket and a further $75 dollars to have the device removed.

"We certainly don't want to be putting the boot on vehicles with only a few parking tickets," said councillor Gord DeRosa.

But new handheld devices allow officers to immediately know if the vehicle has outstanding infractions, giving staff all the information needed to decide if the boot is warranted. (Trail Times)