‘The proof is pretty shoddy’

Collège Letendre ‘no stopping’ tickets denounced as a ‘scam’

Is it a scam or a legit way for the City of Laval to give out tickets and collect fines for ‘no parking’ and ‘no stopping’ infractions allegedly committed by parents waiting for their kids outside a school? You be the judge.

Will they stand legally?

While the Laval Police Department admits it has been working with the city’s parking tickets department to issue citations to car owners whose license plate numbers the ticket agents jot down, a legal expert consulted by the Laval News questions the validity of those tickets, suggesting they might not stand up if contested in court.

Whatever ambiguities there may be, there is no doubt in the mind of George Ziakas that the partnership between the parking agents and the LPD, as well as the method they are using, is no more than a con job.

In this photo also taken by George Ziakas in October, vehicles can be seen outside Collège Letendre parked and double-parked during one of the school’s two rush-hours.

The Saint-Martin district resident, whose children attend Collège Letendre on de l’Avenir Blvd. in downtown Laval, has been ticketed several times in recent months while dropping off or picking up his children before and after school.

Tickets came by mail

Problem is that each time he’s been given a ticket, it came by mail, instead of being issued to him personally by a parking agent or a police officer as is the normal procedure.

As is so often the case at schools in many neighbourhoods, Collège Letendre has had its share of problems managing the dozens of parents’ vehicles that stop and idle outside the school during the morning and afternoon rush hours – sometimes double or even triple-parked on one of Laval’s busiest arteries.

Street signage on de l’Avenir Blvd. outside the school states clearly that no stopping is allowed at any time. A small drop-off area a little further south but still in front of the school, with space for five or six cars, allows drivers 15 minutes of parking.

Parking problems at school

The school has apparently sent out e-mail notices to parents on numerous occasions, warning them of the hazard when drivers illegally stop, double-park or even triple-park on de l’Avenir Blvd.

In an e-mail to the Laval News, Ziakas described the actions of one parking agent who parked his vehicle for more than an hour on the grounds of the school, while jotting down the license plate numbers of cars on the street.

According to Ziakas, the agent may take down the numbers from more than three dozen license plates when he’s assigned to work outside Collège Letendre. “He writes up to 40 license plate numbers the days he is present without physically giving out any tickets,” he said.

In this photo taken in late October by George Ziakas, a City of Laval parking agent can be seen jotting down license plate numbers of vehicles parked on the street (left) while allegedly in violation of the posted parking and no stopping rules.

Ziakas suggests that this is a haphazard way of determining which car owners are actually guilty of illegally stopping or parking because it’s too easy to make errors.

Police issue the tickets

“He’s just making notes of whoever is parking or stopped there for maybe a second or five seconds,” he said. “The way they’re doing it, the guy is just taking notes of license plates, then he passes the information onto the police department, and then the police department sends out the tickets.”

Ziakas noted that over the past 15 years, Collège Letendre’s student population has grown from 700 students to around 1,700 now. “More students equals more cars,” he said.

Chantal Moreau of the Laval Police Department’s public affairs department told the Laval News that the LPD had been receiving complaints about the situation outside Collège Letendre for years and that they tried many different approaches before resorting to a more drastic strategy.

LPD confirms using strategy

“If the parking agent or the police officer were to take the time to verify and check with the people in each vehicle, then we will never be able to fix the problem,” she said, noting that there are simply too many vehicles breaking the no stopping and limited time parking rules to be dealt with effectively.

“Yes, someone is taking down the license plate numbers, they are taking down the most they can,” she confirmed, while adding, “The infraction citation is filled out by the parking agent and is sent out by mail.”

Legal expert questions validity of infraction statements because of ‘hearsay’ factor

Avi Levy, a former Montreal crown prosecutor who co-founded the legal firm Ticket911 specializing in driving and parking violations, questions the validity of the tickets issued using the two-step strategy. “It’s clear that the parking agent is not a peace officer or a police officer,” he said.

Calls agent’s report ‘hearsay’

“So, the parking agent’s report is going to be hearsay as far as the proof and the ticket. Which means the only time it will be valid is if the police counter-signs the report. And if the police counter-signs the report, then the agent will have to go to court and testify. And if he doesn’t, then the ticket will probably get thrown out.”

Overall, he described the tickets in question as “not the best tickets, it’s not the best proof. The proof is pretty shoddy. And I think that if we were to challenge them, we would probably have a high rate of success.”

The Laval News reached out to Collège Letendre for their take on the situation, but they had not responded to a voice mail we left on their phone system last week in time for our deadline.