Victoria Report – Traffic fines put to good use

Where that money goes once you've handed it over - making the best of a bad situation.

Let’s suppose you’re running late for an appointment and you’ve been caught speeding in a 30 km/h zone in Ashcroft.

You’re pulled over and a police officer hands you a fine for $196.

What a way to start your day!

But have you ever wondered what happens to the money you and thousands of other British Columbians pay to resolve traffic tickets?

You might be surprised to learn a portion of your fine comes back to B.C. communities twice a year in the form of a grant to fund policing initiatives and community safety projects.

There’s more. As communities with a population of less than 20,000, Ashcroft and Cache Creek also qualify for twice-yearly Small Community grants. Since March 2011, Ashcroft has received $2,101,105 in Small Community grants, including $277,925 just last month. Cache Creek has received 1,837,483 since 2011, including $248,064 last month.

These grant programs are great for local governments because they pay for municipal projects without affecting local taxes.

This is how they work:

· The Small Community grant program provides unconditional grants, meaning local governments can spend the funding according to their needs and priorities. The grants apply to communities with fewer than 20,000 people and are used for infrastructure, administration and services.

· Traffic Fine Revenue funding comes from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets. The program returns 100 per cent of net traffic fine revenues to communities that are responsible for policing costs. Rural communities and municipalities with populations under 5,000 who do not pay directly for policing participate in the program through a reduction in the police tax.

There is a third grant program as well. Regional District grants are also applied twice a year and, like Small Community grants, are unconditional and can be spent however each regional district sees fit to assist with administration costs. The Thompson-Nicola Regional District received $95,707 from the program last month, and $721,411 since 2011.

Since 2009, the Traffic Fine Revenue, Small Community and Regional District grant programs have provided more than $792 million in funding to communities throughout B.C., to help pay for local projects.

Unlike other grants that go toward a specific purpose, these grants can be used at each community’s discretion on local projects that might otherwise go unfunded.

Our government understands there is no standard formula for addressing priority projects in individual communities. These programs allow decisions to be made locally to help pay for projects that build safer, stronger communities – without burdening local taxpayers.

Jackie Tegart

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