Regional district bylaw officer to have ticketing powers

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George's bylaw officer will soon have the authority to issue tickets for violations for building, zoning and unsightly premises infractions.

On Nov. 19, the district board approved the change, as well as a biannual adjudication process to allow people to fight a ticket. 

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"Now we're working behind the scenes to develop our tickets and procedures. We're lucky to have a very experienced bylaw officer on staff," district general manager of development services Kendra Jonkman said. "We're anticipating that by spring 2021 we will be prepared to issue tickets, if necessary."

Currently 95 other B.C. municipalities, including 13 regional districts, grant ticketing authority to bylaw officers, district bylaw officer Micheal Tillmann and Blaine Harasimiuk, district manager of inspection services and sustainability practices, wrote in a report to the board.

"The regional district currently tries to seek voluntary compliance as a first step for all bylaw infractions," Tillmann and Harasimiuk wrote. "If compliance is not obtained through communications or a compliance order, the regional district must decide whether it is reasonable to pursue compliance through the court system. Initiating court proceedings are not always efficient or cost effective for the regional district. Currently, the regional district does not have an effective enforcement tool between these two options."

Once the ticketing procedures are in place,Tillmann will be able to issue tickets of up to $500 for violations of the Fraser-Fort George Building Bylaw No. 1561, Unsightly Premises Regulation Bylaw No. 3194 and the Zoning Bylaw No. 2892.

According to the report, some of the offences that regional district residents could be ticketed for include: permitting a property to be unsightly ($200); placing or permitting graffiti ($100); allowing a prohibited use of land or a building/structure ($350); or construction or demolition of a building without a permit ($350).

Under the proposed fine schedule, the fines will increase by $50 to $150 if tickets aren't paid within 30 days.

Under the bylaws approved by the district board, residents will have 30 days to challenge a ticket. If the ticket is challenged, it will go to an independent adjudication process.

"Adjudicators are appointed by the Deputy Attorney General. The appointment, training and management of the adjudicator are arm's length from local government,"  Tillmann and Harasimiuk wrote. "An adjudicator hears from both the disputant and local government representative and determines whether they are satisfied that a contravention occurred as alleged."

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