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City looks to install bylaw adjudication system for ticket disputes in time for summer

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 25th, 2011

The city could have a bylaw adjudication system in place by mid summer and revenue could begin flowing into City coffers in time for tourist season.

A draft of the city’s bylaw adjudication system will be aired in public Thursday morning in a special committee of the whole meeting in council chambers at City Hall (10:30 a.m.).

Nelson Police Department chief Wayne Holland will deliver the document, the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Regulation, to council, containing the bylaw adjudication system.

“The system will greatly assist in achieving higher voluntary compliance with traffic offences during the busy summer months,” read a City staff background report.

A City staff report has recommended that appointment of an adjudicator for Nelson be done by the Attorney General’s department through consultation with the City.

There are currently two adjudication firms in the province), the report noted, with a number of adjudicators on their roster who are paid a fixed rate of $625 per day plus a 20 per cent administration fee (covers paperwork and includes travel expenses where applicable).

It was estimated adjudicators could hear an average of 12 to 15 disputes per day. The adjudicator firm could train someone in Nelson for the adjudications, such as a retired judge, lawyer or arbitrator.

“This may be challenging since the initial volume of disputes will be low, meaning a relatively marginal income for the professional who has been trained,” read the staff report.

City staff hired Rick Beauchamp of R.A. Beauchamp and Associates to conduct a bylaw and adjudication feasibility study in 2010. Beauchamp’s feasibility study recommended a total cost of $3,600 for the adjudicator position. The start-up costs for the adjudication system are $8,900 with an annual operating cost of $5,000.

It is expected that those expenses related to implementing the new system will be offset by revenues generated in 2011.

Most of the bylaw infractions are parking tickets and so the City’s bylaw department has been focused primarily on Traffic Bylaw. The new ticket dispute process will initially include building regulation, noise and traffic bylaw infractions, with the option to expand to other bylaws.

The City currently employs 2.5 bylaw enforcement officers, with no expected additions to the department staff to administer the adjudication system.

A screening officer will be trained to review all challenged tickets. Currently, disputed tickets are screened by the deputy chief of police who is responsible for the bylaw enforcement department.

Funding request and a letter of support for low-income housing project

Over $146,000 in associated fees are being asked to be waived by City council as Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays begins its Anderson Street project in earnest.

Joffre Pomerleau will appear before council to ask council for a funding contribution to the $7.2 million project geared towards psycho-geriatric, low-income and at-risk individuals in the Nelson area.

The estimated municipal fees and associated costs the CMHA-K is asking the City to waive are: $20,000 for the development permit and variance and building permit fees; $96,670 for service connection fees; and $30,000 for electrical transformers and connection fees.

There had not been a formal follow on the association’s request for a City contribution on the project after it was announced it had secured its funding back in late 2010.

The new development — which is now underway — is comprised of 30 self-contained rental suites that provide residents both with privacy and with the ability to exercise their independence.

Suite layouts have been designed with approximately 430 square feet of private space per unit, including a large bathroom with a shower, a small kitchen, one bedroom, a living room and a storage space.

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