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Is selling your car on the street illegal in Burnaby?

South Burnaby resident Keith Pinchin doesn't think he should have been fined for having for-sale signs in his car while it was parked on the street in front of his house.

A Burnaby resident slapped with a $65 ticket for having for-sale signs in his 2008 Audi TT while it was parked on the street by his house said he didn't know there was a bylaw against it.

Keith Pinchin, who lives on Patterson Avenue in South Burnaby, said the ticket appeared on the vehicle on April 9, and he is in the process of disputing it.

The ticket indicated he was being fined under a section of the city's street and traffic bylaw that states "no person shall park a vehicle upon a highway for the principal purpose of displaying a vehicle for sale."

"I don't know anyone who has heard of such a bylaw or even suspected that there could be such a bylaw," Pinchin said.

And the city's online bylaw search tool doesn't work, according to Pinchin.

After getting the fine, he said he searched the exact wording and bylaw number on the ticket, and "no results found" was the response he got.

When he called the bylaw office to dispute the ticket, however, Pinchin said a clerk told him he should have called the bylaw office before putting up the for-sale signs.

But that doesn't make sense to Pinchin.

If a resident searches a subject on the city's bylaws page and the search tool says "no results found," Pinchin said most people would feel reassured no bylaw exists on the topic and they wouldn't feel the need to contact the city.

In any case, Pinchin doesn't think the bylaw was created for residents like him.

"This bylaw must certainly have been created to stop dealers or residents running a car selling business on city streets, not to punish a lone resident posting a sign on their own car in front of the home that they own, live in and pay taxes on for 32 years in my case," he said.

Pretending to sell a vehicle privately while really conducting a business selling vehicles without licence is called "curbing" and is illegal, according to the Vehicle Sales Authority, B.C.'s vehicle sales regulator.

But selling "a personal vehicle driven for a reasonable length of time by the seller" is not curbing, according to the VSA website.

Pinchin said he is not a curber and shouldn't be punished.

He said he'd had his Audi for about a year before buying a new vehicle, and the last time he sold a car (by putting for-sale signs in the windows) was five years ago.

He would like city officials to review the bylaw and amend it to exclude regular residents selling their private vehicles.

He'd also like work done on the city's bylaw search tool to make it more useful for residents looking to inform themselves about rules that could get them fined.  

In response to questions from the NOW, City of Burnaby public relations manager Chris Bryan said similar bylaws are on the books in many cities to prevent people from "using the street to conduct an ongoing car-sale business."

"If it was just someone selling their car, typically our bylaw officers wouldn’t issue a ticket," Bryan said in an emailed statement. "As outlined in our bylaw enforcement policy, our focus is on getting compliance through education."

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