The City’s legislative services manager Frances Long put forward a new plan to strengthen bylaws

City of Nelson considers beefing up bylaws

Nelson council is considering giving teeth to bylaws that currently come with no specified penalties.

City council is considering giving teeth to bylaws that currently come with no specified penalties.

At their regular council meeting held on Monday, Frances Long — legislative services manager — talked about a bylaw adjudication process that would put an end to people breaking the rules without facing fines.

“[We want] more teeth in the bylaw so more people will comply so that there is a penalty or consequence should you not follow what’s in the bylaw,” she said.

Currently there are five areas where old enforcement penalties for bylaws suggest fines “up to $2,000” or “up to $10,000,” said Long.

“So it’s very difficult for a bylaw enforcement officer to determine how much do they write a penalty for and if anyone wants to dispute it we have to go to court so it’s very expensive. Consequently, they don’t write tickets,” she told 103.5 The Bridge.

Penalties that are identified in city bylaws but are not a part of the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw must go through the Provincial court system to resolve disputes therefore the City has chosen not to pursue disputes relevant to these bylaws.

Bylaw adjudication is a simple process that first gave muscle to bylaws such as these in 2011. At that time, the adjudication was applied to penalties for traffic bylaws, noise bylaws and building bylaws. In 2012, amendments added the tree bylaw and fire prevention and regulation bylaw.

A meeting was held by staff in early 2013 to review the list of bylaws currently requiring amendment or rewrite. They included smoking in prohibited areas, committing violations in parks such as consuming liquor or having a dog along, failing to maintain one’s property, not having a business licence and improperly storing garbage, fall under this category.

By making penalties more clear-cut for enforcers, they can write a ticket with a pre-defined amount. It’s a straightforward process, said Long.

“We want to take care of those things that are common problems for either bylaw enforcement officers or that we’ve seen in other municipalities where they’ve put penalties that have been effective,” she said.

The City plans to have the first three readings of the bylaw adjudication at their meeting in August with adoption coming in September.