Today’s Poll

Nelson lawyer threatens city with court action over dog bylaw

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
January 23rd, 2015

Nelson lawyer David Aaron intends to take the city to court unless it either rescinds or stops enforcing the dog bylaw, which he says is unconstitutional. In a letter to Nelson police chief Wayne Holland and Mayor Deb Kozak on Monday, he said he will file court documents on May 1 unless satisfactory changes are made.

Aaron says bylaw officers have given him three tickets since 2012 for having his dog downtown. When he attempted to formally dispute those tickets, he was told there was no mechanism for doing so. He says the lack of an opportunity for a hearing is contrary to the Charter of Rights and violates the presumption of innocence. He calls the by-law “totalitarian.”

The bylaw, which has been in place since the 1990s, prohibits dogs in a defined area of downtown.

Aaron ran for mayor of Nelson in 2008.

“If the city is not affording any process to check a law for its constitutionality,” Aaron told The Nelson Daily, “and at the same time they continue to exercise their power under the bylaw, then they are conducting themselves in a way that is unseemly and inconsistent with the rule of law.”

Nelson police chief Wayne Holland says Aaron “has a very good point.” He supported a failed attempt last February by then-Councillor Deb Kozak to get council to relax the bylaw for a trial period.

Mayor Deb Kozak says the issue will come before council in the next two months.

“We just finished an election and we are in the middle of annual budget deliberations,” she said. “I am hoping he will not pursue legal action at this time but give us time to get on our feet.”

Kozak said it is not as simple as just lifting the ban.

“In order to do it properly,” she said, “there might have to be other rules in place. You have to make sure the dogs are trained, restrained, leashed, and cleaned up after. So there have to be some additions to the bylaw.

“It is amazing how passionate people are about this. I think we need to give the community a break. Try something new. People will still be passionate about it, but it would be great to have some resolution, and to move on to other things we should be dealing with.”

Asked if the police will stop enforcing the bylaw immediately as Aaron is demanding, Holland said only the city council can decide that, but Kozak said the police chief has discretion on when to enforce.

Aaron said the bylaw violates three sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:  Section 1 by not taking the least restrictive means to its goal, Section 2 by limiting his fundamental freedoms, and Section 15 because it discriminates against a specific group of people.

Related story:

Downtown dog ban remains in place (February, 2014)


Categories: GeneralPolitics

Other News Stories