It could soon cost you twice as much to fight someone in Vancouver

Dec 9 2019, 12:41 pm

The City of Vancouver could quickly see fines for fighting in public areas double in cost.

On Tuesday, city council members will debate a recommendation from city staff, which, if passed, would see the fine for fighting in streets and public areas in Vancouver increase from $500 to $1,000, which is the maximum fineable amount.

The report follows a motion that Councillor Melissa De Genova introduced in February and aims to combat fighting in public spaces, as well as implement tougher consequences for doing so.

City staff say that the suggestion to double fines also follows consultation with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and has been endorsed by the Granville Entertainment District Safety and Working Group.

The fine would be decreased by 50%, however, if it’s paid in 30 days.

“The increased penalty is intended to deter street fighting and disorder,” reads the report. “The reduced fine provides an incentive for voluntary payment and it is anticipated to improve the collection rate for fines imposed for fighting.”

Last August, City Staff also implemented a “procedural change” that will send any unpaid tickets to a collection agency.

“If the ticket remains unpaid after 30 days, the outstanding debt is reported to the credit rating bureaus and may negatively impact the individual’s credit rating.”

The staff report has recommended against one part of Councillor De Genova’s motion, however. Initially, De Genova brought forward the possibility of requesting amendments to provincial legislation, which would require that individuals pay for fighting-related fines before renewing their insurance, driver’s licence, or BC ID.

City staff says that similar requests that have been made to the province in the past have been denied. Also, “a possible challenge could be mounted under section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as someone could be deprived of a driver’s license for a by-law violation.”