More than $1 billion in unpaid traffic tickets in Ontario has been accumulating for more than a decade, and the government admitted yesterday some if it will never be recovered.

The province gave municipalities the right to collect traffic fines in 2002, and said they could try to collect $485 million in unpaid tickets it was owed at the time.

That figure has since ballooned to $1,048,600,000.

The Ontario Association of Police Services Boards called on the province to give municipalities more power to collect unpaid fines.

However, Premier Dalton McGuinty said the province gave municipalities extra powers to do just that last fall, and he wants more time to see if they are working.

“We made some changes recently through one of our good government bills to give some new authority to our municipalities when it comes to attacking these kinds of outstanding fines,” said McGuinty.

“I’m not sure we’ve had enough time to determine whether or not it’s working fully.”

Some of the unpaid tickets date back many years, said Attorney General Chris Bentley, who admitted some of the fines will never be paid.

“I suspect there’s a lot of historical unpaid fines in there going back many years that nobody’s ever going to collect anyway, and that municipalities long ago gave up on,” said Bentley.

Municipalities also have the power to decline to issue licence plate renewals for drivers with unpaid tickets, and to add unpaid fines to the property tax rolls, and it’s up to them to collect the outstanding money, noted Bentley.

“They’re on the front lines of enforcing and collecting, and I think they need to make sure they’re doing everything that they can,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter to me how much it is. The fact that money is outstanding is something that I’m interested in.”

A large portion of the unpaid tickets in Ontario are from American drivers, said Alok Mukherjee, president of the Association of Police Services Boards.