Edmonton mulls giving motorists chance to give back
Edmonton has a real opportunity to boost the yuletide cheer for hundreds of needy children by sponsoring a unique traffic ticket program that’s sweeping the country, say civic leaders.
Earlier this month, parking violators in Red Deer were given the option of donating a toy of equal or more value than their parking tickets for three weeks.
Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling says he was shocked by how successful the "Toys for Tickets" program really was. The city collected more than 830 toy donations in lieu of $8,575 worth in payments for parking tickets.
"A program like this would boost donations completely in Edmonton because, for the person who has the ticket, it makes the best out of a bad situation before Christmas," he said.
"This was such a success here. We had people who were getting tickets on purpose because they wanted to be a part of the program."
Coun. Dave Thiele says a similar program is worth looking at in more detail at city council meetings next year.
"This is a very interesting concept and this might be something worthwhile," he said. "It could be a nice gesture to the community."
Boston has already used a similar program for eight years, which has been studied by Edmonton officials, says David Aitken of the city bylaw department.
The study confirmed that the program does have merit, he says, but three weeks of usage could mean a loss of up to $300,000 to city coffers — equal to 10,000 parking tickets.
Along with lost revenue and other expenses, the city would still have to pay wages for contracted parking enforcement staff, making the total cost of the program tipping close to $800,000.
Flewwelling says having a program like this in Edmonton could ease tensions when it comes to drivers paying tickets during the Christmas season.
"When people get a parking ticket, they are not usually in the best frame of mind," said Flewwelling. "If they are going to pay a fine, it might as well be a Christmas endeavour."