One of Saanich’s newly elected councillors is leading a push to make higher-income earners pay heftier traffic tickets.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff of the Victoria-are Distrist of Saanich is proposing fines should be based on how much money a person makes, rather than a flat rate. It’s just one of four motions introduced at a Jan. 9 council meeting which he hopes will make it to the floor of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention this September.
“You don’t want people with low incomes being absolutely broken by a ticket – having their ability to afford groceries that month dramatically impacted, or not being to afford rent – at the same time, you don’t want the ultra-wealthy to have carte blanche to break the law,” Phelps Bondaroff told the Saanich News.
“The idea is to exert the same deterrent force on all drivers,” he said. “Because $100 means something different to someone who makes $35,000 a year compared to someone who makes half a million, you really need a fines system based on income to exert the same deterrent force on people.”
Phelps Bondaroff, a first-time councillor, also wants the province to allow municipalities to implement traffic enforcement cameras on local roads – which he says are an effective tool for decreasing the cost enforcement while increasing compliance. If the motion passes the council hurdle, he wants to ask the B.C. government to reverse its effective ban on municipalities installing red-light and speeding cameras.
While the two motions are likely to stir up a bit of controversy around Greater Victoria and beyond, he says his suggestions aren’t anything new. Countries like Finland, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden have already implemented similar systems and all boast impressive road safety records, according to Phelps Bondaroff.
He admits that there are practical challenges which will need to be taken into consideration – such as individuals who hide their income in shell corporations, or people who simply come from a wealthy family.
In order for any of the resolutions to be considered by the UBCM convention, they must first pass through Saanich council and the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) convention. If approved at the UBCM, the provincial government will be obligated to respond.
Premier David Eby called the proposal an “interesting one” in a press conference last week.
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