An old idea involving ICBC is new again. Let's take it another step.
Earlier this week, Minister of Transportation Blair Lekstrom tabled legislation that would finally allow TransLink to collect millions of dollars in unpaid fines. If enacted, these new legal provisions will prevent transit scofflaws from renewing their driver’s license or getting basic car insurance without first settling their debts.
One key provision should also translate into better bus service. It’s the section of Bill 51 that directs which level of government or agency gets to pocket all that money.
Currently TransLink is responsible for issuing tickets and collecting any outstanding penalties. However, those funds then flowed directly into BC’s general revenue. Lekstrom’s legislation will take every dollar collected for these infractions and re-invest it directly into public transit.
Why stop there? If you ask me, it makes financial sense to have ICBC collect more than just transit fines. Every city and municipality in BC has plenty of penalties that don’t get paid; parking tickets, tree cutting violations, unlicensed pets.
Back in 2008, former Attorney General Geoff Plant was Vancouver’s Project Civil City Commissioner. Plant openly lobbied Victoria to persuade ICBC to collect millions in unpaid fines owed to the City of Vancouver. As with TransLink, cities also struggle with the same issue of collecting on debt owed.
At the time both former Mayor Sam Sullivan and Plant tried to convince the Province that developing a new revenue sharing agreement was in everyone’s best interest. Yet Premier Gordon Campbell and ICBC were both unsupportive of the crown corporation being transformed into a quasi-collection agency.
In response to Vancouver’s ICBC proposal Campbell said “the city sets its bylaws, the city sets its enforcement procedures and the city should discover how they can do that without using ICBC."
A spokesperson for ICBC echoed the Premier’s concerns and stated "ICBC really isn't interested in getting into the business of collecting fines for municipalities or cities.”
If they play their cards right, the current policy reversal on the insurance agency could translate into even more revenue for the Province and local municipalities.
A creative solution might be for Victoria to collect unpaid fines owed to Metro Vancouver municipalities, then invest 50% of those “new” funds into TransLink. The remaining amount could be equitably split between the various cities and Victoria.
A creative solution might be for Victoria to collect all those unpaid fines owed to Metro Vancouver municipalities then invest 50% of those “new” funds into TransLink. The remaining funds could be equitably split between the various cities and Victoria.
With spare tax dollars in short supply these days, employing ICBC to collect fines is a kind of win-win proposal the BC government should take a hard look at.
- post by Daniel