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As cities aim to improve their sustainability, by improving air quality and congestion, the City of Toronto is looking at ways to make it easier to ticket cars blocking bike lanes by moving to an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) system. And to save some money in the process.

We weren’t able to find much on the City’s website talking about details. The survey link asking for input on an AMP system is now defunct. But media reports from early December are indicating that bylaw officers will be able to ticket vehicles illegally parked in bike lanes by taking a photo of the car, looking up the registered owner, and then mailing a violation notice to the offender. The new City By-law could be in force by spring 2016.

An AMP system is intended to move offences into a civil penalty system which does not involve proving a quasi-criminal offence in court. An AMP system exists under the Environmental Protect Act for specified industries, and due diligence defenses are not available.

The Ministry of the Attorney General released a paper in March 2015 in which it explored an online AMP system for infractions of provincial and municipal by-laws in Ontario. While AMPs do not lead to convictions, administrative decisions may still lead to demerit points or driver license suspensions.

This review seems to have been spurred, at least in part, by the cost of managing straight-forward infractions through the court system – the report notes that there were approximately 1,650,000 provincial offences in the previous year, compared to 500,000 – 600,000 criminal charges laid. Toronto, in 2013, was responsible for 1/4 of all POA charges in the province. Toronto has budgeted over $50 million for POA courts in recent years.

We will find out in the spring if Toronto moves forward with this new system and if it results in more violation notices for specific offences, including to delinquent drivers blocking cycling lanes.

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