Residents in Pickering can at least get into the spirit of giving this holiday season when they see that slim yellow ticket tucked under their windshield.
According to the city’s by-law manager, Kim Thompson, between Dec. 1 and 10, Pickering’s Toys for Tickets and Food for Fines program will give people the opportunity to pay parking tickets with toys and pay fines with non-perishable food items.
“The Toys for Tickets and Food for Fines program was introduced to benefit the community. It has been a really tough year for a lot of people,” she said. “Its a program that we became aware of that was offered in other cities previously and we thought it would be the perfect time to implement it.”
Tickets and fines can only be paid with toys or food on Dec. 10 and 11 following the conclusion of the program. Toy donations have to be suitable for infants to young adults up to 18-years-old.
“They have to bring in a receipt that proves that the donation is equal to or exceeds the value of their parking ticket,” Thompson said.
The city of Kingston has implemented this program for the last five years and inspired Oshawa to do the same two years ago according to Thompson.
Pickering attended an information session in which representatives from both Oshawa and Kingston gave a presentation highlighting the success of the program to various municipalities.
“I would hope that because we are doing this program it would inspire other cities to do the same thing … I wouldn’t be surprised to see other municipalities introducing it this year,” Thompson said.
Thompson says that one exception for the program is the fine for parking in a disabled space. That fine is mandated under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act and is not eligible for the program.
Durham Regional Police will be responsible for distributing donations from fines and tickets through their own food and toy drive.
“Anything that we can add to their program is something we look forward to,” Thompson said. “We have already had people coming to the counter asking when they can start paying their tickets with donations. But unfortunately, not quite yet.”