Push grows for income-based traffic fines in B.C.

There’s growing momentum behind a push to tie traffic fines to a person’s income in British Columbia.

It’s an approach in place in some European countries — including Sweden and Finland — where there have been high-profile cases of drivers being dinged the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On Vancouver Island, Saanich Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff tried to get the conversation going earlier this year. However, he couldn’t get a second councillor in his municipality to back his motion calling for the province to “explore the implementation of a means-tested traffic fine system, whereby fines would be calculated on the basis of the recipients’ income.”

At the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention last week, delegates from local governments adopted a resolution on this brought forward by New Westminster and have sent it to the provincial government for consideration.

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“Flat rate fines disproportionately impact people with low incomes, and they also fail to serve as an effective deterrent for people with high incomes,” Phelps Bondaroff told CityNews in an interview.

He says if those with higher incomes are handed a fine proportionate to what they make, it could make traffic laws more effective.

“If the goal is to prevent people from breaking the law, and we have these laws in place on our roads to keep people safe, we want to make sure we’re exerting the same deterrent force on all road users,” Phelps Bondaroff said.

“That means we can’t have a flat traffic fine. The traffic fine should be based on income.”

Resolutions adopted by delegates at the UBCM convention are non-binding, meaning the province is under no obligation to follow the lead of local governments making these proposals.

However, the province is required to provide a response to these resolutions, and on some issues, the provincial government has used discussions at UBCM to inform changes.

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