Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ICBC and City of Langley at odds over information access

According to a staff report submitted at the City's last council meeting, ICBC and the City of Langley are at odds when it comes to accessing vehicle ownership information. City of Langley Bylaw Enforcement used to provide vehicle license plate information to ICBC, who would then provide vehicle ownership information as part of routine bylaw enforcement. According to the City, this information stopped following from ICBC last fall. ICBC apparently changed their policy to only provide vehicle ownership information after a violation ticket has been issued by the City. The problem for the City is that apparently they can’t issue some tickets until they have ownership information which they used to obtain from ICBC. This has left the City in a catch 22. According to the staff report, it has impacted the ability of Bylaw Enforcement especially with “instances of noise violations or vehicles blocking driveways where the officers attempt to contact the vehicle owner to resolve the issue immediately”.

The report notes that this change in policy is a result of ICBC reinterpreting a section of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPA). Langley City isn’t the only municipality in BC that is in this situation. The City of New Westminster, the District of West Vancouver and the Corporation of Delta are some of the other municipalities facing the same challenge with ICBC.

According to the staff report, the City of Langley has a standard municipal contract with ICBC that allows for disclosure of vehicle ownership information to:
-Collecting a debt or fine
-Complying with bylaws
-Enforcing parking violations

In the report, City of Langley lawyers “expressed the opinion that central to the problem is an erroneous [re]interpretation” of the FOIPA and “that this may constitute breach of contract, but that, given that the relationship with ICBC is important and these contracts come up for renewal every three years, it may be prudent to take a conciliatory position at the early stages of dealing with the impasse.”

As this change in policy from ICBC is impacting the ability of the City of Langley and other municipalities in BC to enforce bylaws, the City of Langley is asking the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to work with ICBC in an effort to resolve this issue. In the meantime, it looks like it will be a lot harder to enforce some bylaws in the City.

No comments: