Collect $200 As You Pass Go

As a number of media sites have already reported, UBC lost its parking case at the BC Supreme Court. The court found that UBC has no authority to issue parking tickets or collect money for parking violations. I know what you’re thinking…

Well, not necessarily.

The suit focused on UBC’s ability to issue parking tickets and collect money for parking violations. And as it turns out, they can’t. However, UBC’s ability to regulate parking, charge for parking and enforce parking were not at issue. UBC can still legally do all these things.

What will be interesting to see is whether of not UBC comes up with a genuine, reasonable response to this. From the beginning, it never seemed like they were taking this lawsuit very seriously and were basically trying to bully their way out of it. It’s never a good sign when you abandon your main defense right before the trial. And so far, after the decision, everything they’ve done has merely been posturing. They’ve already said they’ll appeal. They also released a bulletin which I can’t help but snicker at.

“Nothing to see here, folks… business as usual… here is some legalese to obscure what’s really going on… continue overpaying us for parking… if you do not continue to pay us you will unleash a traffic Armageddon… and if we do have to tow you, please know we’re only doing it for your own good.”

The result of the ruling is that now, the only way UBC can enforce parking regulations is by either 1) asking everyone nicely to continue paying for parking, or 2) towing and impounding vehicles. I really hope UBC thinks long and hard before using option #2 given that heavy-handed application of parking rules is what got them into this mess in the first place. If they start towing cars left, right and centre, they are eventually going to end up with another lawsuit on their hands.

I don’t have a whole lot more to add, but was hoping to hear what people think about this in the comments because I think it’s a very interesting development. No other campus blog has mentioned it and the Ubyssey won’t have the story ready until next Tuesday.

Personally I am interested in learning that if this judgement is upheld on appeal, what are the broader implications? There must be other instances where UBC has granted themselves powers they are not legally entitled to under the University Act. Anybody know?


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  1. The unfortunate part here /is/ that they dropped their original University Act argument, which I imagine was based around the powers of the BoG to manage and control the real property of the University (Univ. Act 27(2)(d)). It’s this one clause that most of the authority the University claims it has comes from.

    Strategically, their interpretation of that clause is worth much more than this class-action, so we’ll continue to dance around the actual issue here, they’ll be in the courts for a while, and then at some point the government will step in, issue an order and UBC will be able to fine for parking legally. It’s the job of the AMS to step in here though and ensure that such an order has the appropriate accountabilities in place, as the University is going for an ask from the government and that typically means there’s room for concessions.


    Posted by Alex Lougheed | April 6, 2009, 1:33 pm
  2. In the judge’s decision 27(2)(d) was never mentioned. Instead, he referenes 27(2)(t) “to control vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the university campus” as what UBC’s original defense appears to be based on.

    I agree that a court’s interpretation of 27(2)(d) would be very interesting, but I don’t think it would have come up in this case. Alex, I finally know how you can use your newfound free time… sue the university! :)

    What about Univ. Act 27(2)(m)(ii), which gives BOG the power to “to set, determine and collect the fees to be paid for instruction, research and all other activities in the university“?

    What are the limitations on that clause such that it does not apply to parking violations?

    Posted by Neal Yonson | April 8, 2009, 9:45 pm
  3. Interesting.. I guess I missed that on my gloss-over of the ruling. And you raise an interesting point Neal. My understanding runs dry here.

    Calling on TLG, our lawyer hack, for legal commentary/insight.

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | April 11, 2009, 4:41 pm
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