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Complaints drive bylaw enforcement, not a "posse" of officers: councilor

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
September 26th, 2011

The City’s new bylaw on enforcement will be complaints driven, not proactive, says one City councilor.

Donna Macdonald said the Bylaw Notice Enforcement bylaw is an important piece of legislation delivered by council in that it lets people know the philosophy behind the creation of the adjudication process for ticket disputes.

As City council embarks on full implementation of an adjudication process for tickets — including traffic tickets — the idea behind the process had to be set down, Coun. Macdonald said.

“This is really important to communicate this to the community because it will change the way we will do things,” she said at the time. “I think it will really pay off in the long run.”

There are a number of bylaws and policies involved in the new bylaw enforcement procedure, but what is really important is the guiding policy and the complaints policy aspect of the bylaw, she said.

The complaints policy contained in the bylaw speaks to how the various bylaws will be enforced, mainly on a complaint basis. However, for traffic infractions, the enforcement officers will often just act and not wait for someone to complain, Coun. Macdonald said.

“The point being: although we have all these bylaws and rules, we’re not going to have a posse of officers going around ticketing everything and everyone,” she said. “There has to be a legitimate complaint, and the screening/adjudication process allows for discussion and discretion.”

The former policy speaks to the goal being to focus on voluntary compliance, to ensure people know about bylaws and encourage their compliance through education and communication, Coun. Macdonald pointed out.

“The policy says the enforcement officers will act in a professional manner, and represent the City with integrity; they’ll act in an accountable and impartial manner at all times,” she said. “So that gives the flavour of how we’re approaching this.”

Bylaw adjudication

A City staff report May 26 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.

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.

  • The Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act also provides council the authority to institute a bylaw adjudication system.!/TheNelsonDaily

See also

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

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