The regional bylaw enforcement officer has the authority to issue tickets and fines for infractions now that the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) enacted its 2021 Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw.
“My first approach is always to educate people about what the actual bylaws are and why they exist,” explains Brandy Rafuse, RDKB bylaw enforcement officer.
Rafuse said situations can be corrected by the property owner once they understand what the bylaw requires, and a ticket or fine can be avoided in certain cases, depending upon several factors including whether a situation is unsafe.
“When I receive a written complaint and arrive at a property to investigate, I may discover that the owner has no idea they are contravening a bylaw, or what the financial and legal implications may be if they fail to comply.”
Local governments create bylaws for various purposes including to regulate, prohibit, or require certain actions or behaviours related to things like land use and zoning, building regulations, animal control, and noise.
Anyone who receives a ticket and wishes to dispute it can do so through a new administrative adjudication system that is part of the new enforcement bylaw. This means disputes can stay out of court, and lawyers and witnesses are no longer needed to adjudicate.
To educate residents about the new enforcement bylaw and other bylaws that exist across the region, the RDKB mailed an informational flyer to all electoral area addresses last week and is sharing an educational video on their website, rdkb.com, to explain how the new process works.
“If we issue a ticket after someone has been educated about what the bylaws require, I always point out that on the back of any ticket are written instructions on how to dispute it,” Rafuse said. “So residents know that a straightforward process exists for them to make their case.”
The RDKB bylaw enforcement process is complaint-driven, which means only written complaints sent to the regional district can trigger an investigation into a possible bylaw contravention. Anyone can submit a complaint through an online form on the regional district website, by email, mailed letter, petition, or verified fax.
All complaints are confidential, and the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requires the RDKB to keep all personal information confidential even if someone makes an information request under the Act.
The only case in which information may be disclosed is if the matter proceeds to court and the RDKB is required by law to disclose the information provided.
Anyone who receives a bylaw infraction ticket can pay a reduced rate if they pay early, and has access to an adjudication system in which an independent adjudicator renders an impartial decision about whether the offence occurred.
“Bylaws are in place to keep our communities safe and livable for everyone,” says Director Ali Grieve, electoral area services committee chair. “We are committed to educating people about how and why to respect bylaws in place for their own and their neighbours’ well-being. We are also committed to enforcing those bylaws and providing the public with access to a fair, impartial adjudication process,” she adds.
“Education and enforcement are both necessary to keep the Kootenay Boundary a great place to live.”
Go to: rdkb.com/bylawenforcement for information about RDKB bylaws and bylaw enforcement.
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