Casual Legal: Bylaw tickets & their functions

By Taylor Thiesen
Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP
Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Service Provider

Provincial legislation gives municipalities authority to issue various kinds of tickets to enforce penalties for bylaw contraventions. The main kinds of bylaw tickets are outlined below, along with brief descriptions and explanations of how they differ from one another.

Municipal Violation Tag

The Municipal Government Act gives municipalities authority to pass bylaws allowing municipal violation tags to be issued. Like a provincial ticket, a municipal tag will include a fine based on the specified penalty in the bylaw. If the person who receives the tag pays the fine by the relevant deadline, they will not be prosecuted for the offence.

Municipal tags can offer a potential advantage to the issuing municipality: if the fine is paid, the municipality can collect the entirety of the proceeds, without the need to “split” these proceeds with the provincial government. However, unlike a provincial ticket, there is no way to enforce a municipal tag in court if the fine is not paid. In order to prosecute the contravention, the municipality will need to re-issue the tag as a provincial violation ticket.

Provincial Violation Ticket – Offence Notice (“Part 3 Ticket”)

The majority of provincial tickets for bylaw offences are issued under Part 3 of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act. Tickets with specified penalties of up to $1,000 can be issued as Part 3 tickets.

A person must attend court for trial if they wish to dispute a Part 3 ticket. However, they cannot be compelled to attend court – no arrest warrant will be issued if they fail to appear. Instead, an accused who does not show up for their court date will typically be convicted in absence. This is a simple process that does not require a trial.

Provincial Violation Ticket – Summons (“Part 2 Ticket”)

Violation tickets must be issued under Part 2 of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act if they include a fine of more than $1,000, or do not specify a fine amount. If the person fails to voluntarily pay the fine, or if the ticket does not allow for a voluntary payment, then they are required to attend court on the date that appears on the ticket. If they fail to appear, the court has the power to issue a warrant for their arrest, and they may be charged with failing to appear.

Unlike Part 3 tickets, the accused cannot simply be convicted in absence on a Part 2 ticket. Instead, if the matter is set for trial and the accused does not appear, the prosecutor can run a trial in the accused’s absence. Like a regular trial, the prosecutor will need to call witnesses and evidence to prove the accused committed the offence.

A peace officer can also issue a Part 2 ticket for an offence with a fine under $1,000, if it is in the public interest to compel the accused before the court. However, this is rarely done because the simpler and less costly conviction in absence procedure is not available for Part 2 tickets.

To access Alberta Municipalities Casual Legal Helpline, Alberta Municipalities members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or send an casuallegal [at] (email) to reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please call 310-MUNI (6864) or send an riskcontrol [at] (email) to speak to Alberta Municipalities Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of Alberta Municipalities can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.