Throw us a bone!

It’s interesting how things change. It seems like in the city the gentle ways of the small town are flourishing while the nurturing ways in small town Hope B.C. are on their way out.

It’s interesting how things change. It seems like in the city the gentle ways of the small town are flourishing while the nurturing ways in small town Hope B.C. are on their way out.

Vancouver should be commended for adopting a new collection system for parking fines. The new dispute system is wisely crafted with a convenient and speedy dispute system. The new policy also adds a half price incentive, if you pay up quick that is…. On the other hand, if you dispute a ticket – and lose – you not only pay the full price, but also cover the $25 cost for the dispute process. Be good and be rewarded, fight without cause and it’ll cost you.

Vancouver believes the early-pay discount incentive will mean more tickets are paid – and with stacks of tickets and outstanding fines totaling around $7 million dollars, a little wisdom was needed. Throw us a bone and we’ll go fetch.

I am not quite so enamored with the District of Hope’s recent form of collection, when dog owners, some whose dogs had not been licensed for years, were slammed with official blue $115 tickets in the mail. The enclosed letter demanded that the owner not only pay up for Puffy’s license for 2011 but for 2010 as well…. Of course, it was a bluff, and once the owner paid for a 2011 license, the district staffers ripped up the ticket.

Yes, it worked, but this form of enforcement is detrimental in the end. Firstly, residents learn not to license a new dog at all – if they want to stay forever out of the District’s bad books. Secondly, they learn that the district plays games. Thirdly, this practice simply builds resentment in good people, who have in the past bought licenses, while unlicensed dog owners go unchecked….

Why if licenses were due last January is the District so far behind that it does its collections 11 months later. Trying to sell an expired license to a dog owner is rather futile. If business owners left a small bill go uncollected for almost a year they would take the loss and have a good talk with their bookkeeper. Collecting would be fruitless, would anger their customers, would be embarrassing – and a knock to the company’s credibility.

The District reportedly has $15,000 in outstanding dog licenses to collect…. For all the cost of collections (a contractor was hired to phone delinquent dog owners), for all the many Rovers and Fidos that have long since moved or passed away, why not just throw the taxpayer a bone and return the early purchase discount that was grabbed away a few years back? And if you really want to sell dog licenses shout from your rooftop the no punishment, ‘we are there for you’, policy of city dogcatchers…. Buy a license and they bring your dog home for free…. Just got that small town feeling back!