407 drivers can have plates denied for outstanding bills

Steve Bouchard

TORONTO — Ontario Hwy. 407 users who don’t pay their bills will not be able to get their licence plates renewed, a provincial court has declared.

407 ETR — the consortium that owns the 108-km private highway just north of Toronto — announced that the Ontario Divisional Court has issued a unanimous decision ordering the Ontario Registrar of Motor Vehicles to comply with the « statutory obligation » to deny vehicle permits to individuals who refuse to pay their 407 ETR tolls.

In their ruling, the Honourable Mr. Justice James D. Carnwath, Madam Justice Joan L. Lax and Madam Justice Katherine E. Swinton ruled that « the Registrar had no discretion to refuse plate denial » and therefore ordered the Registrar to begin denying plates, the highway operators said.
Plate denial is used for 407 ETR because it is an all-electronic, barrier-free highway with no traditional tollbooths. Therefore, vehicles are not physically prevented from using the highway — even if a customer’s account is significantly overdue.

The company had started to send these plates for denial notices in August 2003, but the Registrar had refused to act.

407 ETR says that plate denial was in place while the highway was owned and operated by the previous
Ontario government and the practice was a key part of the 1998 legislation allowing the sale of the highway to the company.

As a result of today’s decision, says ETR, the Registrar will deny the plates of over 4,000 individuals who used the highway but, to date, have not paid.

« We have tried to resolve this issue amicably for over two years, so it is unfortunate that we had to go to court to finally get the Registrar to uphold the law, » said Enrique Diaz-Rato, 407 ETR President and Chief Executive Officer.

The highway operator has been tangled in a bitter legal dispute with the Ontario Liberal government ever since the McGuinty regime was elected in 2003.

Since then, the government has lost a series of court challenges, in which the Liberals have attempted to limit the 407 ETR’s authority over toll rates.

However, the government has not yet indicated it will throw in the towel, even after the latest court decision in August. That ruling stated that contract conditions allow the highway owners to raise tolls as long as traffic doesn’t fall below 2002 levels.

Steve Bouchard

Steve Bouchard écrit sur le camionnage depuis plus de 20 ans, ce qui en fait de loin le journaliste le plus expérimenté dans le domaine au Québec. Steve est le rédacteur en chef de l’influent magazine Transport Routier, publié par Newcom Média Québec, depuis sa création en 2000. Il est aussi le rédacteur en chef du site web transportroutier.ca, il agit comme rédacteur conseil du magazine L’automobile et il contribue aux magazines Today’s Trucking et Truck News.

Steve rédige aussi le bulletin électronique de Transport Routier, Les nouveautés du routier, et il participe à l’élaboration des stratégies de communication pour le salon ExpoCam de Montréal, propriété de Newcom.

Steve est détenteur d’un permis de conduire de classe 1 depuis 2004 et il est le seul journaliste de camionnage au Québec à avoir gagné des prix Kenneth R. Wilson de la Presse spécialisée du Canada, l’or et l’argent deux fois chacun.

Steve a occupé la présidence et la présidence du Conseil du Club des professionnels du transport du Québec et il représente les médias au comité des fournisseurs de l’Association du camionnage du Québec. En 2011, il a reçu le prestigieux prix «Amélioration de l’image de l’industrie» remis par l’Association du camionnage du Québec.

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