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Judgement and approval passed on City's new adjudication system

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
September 29th, 2011

No one likes their dirty laundry aired in public.

And the City will now take any dirty laundry arising from bylaws disputes to an independent adjudicator — rather than the provincial courts — after they began the process of setting up the system earlier this month.

Council passed several new bylaws at their Sept. 6 meeting that will allow for an adjudication process to resolve disputed bylaw infractions.

The new system will apply to the building, noise control and traffic bylaws, said Mayor John Dooley.

“But we are in the process of reviewing and updating all of our bylaws, and others will be added to this system gradually,” he said

Under the new system, residents will have 14 days to dispute a Bylaw Enforcement Notice – such as a parking ticket. Their complaint will be reviewed by a screening officer, who will determine if the complaint stands, a compliance agreement can be entered into or if the ticket should be canceled.

If the screening officer determines that the ticket stands and the complainant still does not agree, they have the option of requesting that their dispute be reviewed by an adjudicator.

Under the previous system, the City would need to go to provincial court to resolve disputed bylaw penalties. This process was both time-consuming and expensive. The change to the new system was made possible in 2003 when the provincial government enacted the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act.

Municipalities around the province have gradually begun adopting the new system since then. More details about the bylaw adjudication process can be found on the City’s website at http://www.nelson.ca/EN/main/services/bylaw-enforcement.html.

How it works

Complaint

In order to dispute a bylaw notice, the person who received the notice must file a written complaint with the City within 14 calendar days of the date on which they received the notice.

Complaint forms are available on the City website at http://www.nelson.ca/EN/main/services/bylaw-enforcement.html.

Review

Once the complaint is received, the person will have an opportunity to speak with a screening officer. The screening officer will review the notice and will discuss the matter with the issuing officer.

In some specific cases the Screening Officer may cancel a notice, or enter into a compliance agreement.

For example, the screening officer is authorized to cancel a parking violation notice if the contravention as the result of a medical emergency, or the vehicle had been stolen, or other specific instances outlined by City policy.

Where appropriate, the screening officer might also enter into a compliance agreement, where the person agrees to pay a reduced penalty and come into compliance with the bylaw on or before a specific date.

A compliance agreement only applies in situations where the violation can be corrected – such as cleaning up untidy premises, or getting a valid building permit.

The screening officer might also uphold the notice, in which case the person may pay the notice, or request adjudication.

Adjudication

If adjudication is chosen, the screening officer will give the person the option of making their dispute in person, in writing or by phone.

The adjudication coordinator then contacts the independent adjudicator, and schedules and coordinates the adjudication process.

Once the adjudication date is determined, the complainant will be contacted indicating the day that their bylaw notice will be reviewed by the adjudicator. On the date specified, the complainant and the bylaw officer will provide their information to the adjudicator.

Once the adjudicator makes a ruling, the decision cannot be appealed. If the adjudicator determines the offense did occur, the complainant is required to pay the full cost of the penalty plus a $25 administration fee.

If the adjudicator decides in favour of the complainant, the ticket is cancelled and no fees are due to the City.

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