VICTORIA — British Columbia’s public safety minister says a significant number of people who received tickets for allegedly violating COVID-19 measures are disputing them but those who want to drive their vehicle may have to pay up.

Mike Farnworth says the Insurance Corporation of B.C. will send unpaid fines to a collection agency after 30 days when the period to dispute them has ended. 

Other unpaid violation ticket files typically go to collections after a year.

Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act last spring allow the corporation to refuse to issue driver’s licences and vehicle licences to people who have not paid fines.

A spokesman for the corporation says 2,724 tickets have been issued, amounting to over $1.9 million in fines.

Brent Shearer says less than $388,000 of that amount has been paid so far for 736 tickets, and that guilty verdicts were the result of court action related to 1,181 tickets.

He says court dates have been requested to dispute 417 tickets and that a further 390 tickets fall into various categories like being cancelled, in dispute or having been withdrawn.

The province has said people with violation tickets could request a court lower the fine if they don’t have the money to pay them.

It says repayment arrangements can also be requested and will be considered by ICBC depending on financial needs.

Farnworth says the province intends to collect the money that is owed.

“At the end of the day, when you go to renew your ICBC insurance, you have to pay your fine. So those tickets will be paid. It may take some time, but they will be paid.”

Violation tickets have been issued for a range of reasons to individuals and businesses.

For example, business owners, operators and event organizers who fail to check someone’s proof of vaccination for services and access to a venue can be fined $2,300.

The same amount can be issued to event organizers who don’t follow COVID-19 measures. 

People who attend a non-compliant event or encourage others to do so are subject to a $575 fine, while those who behave abusively toward a restaurant or bar employee in relation to public health orders can be fined $230.

The province says 612 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 102 of them are in intensive care.

Nine more people have died, for a total of 2,840 deaths.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press