The Regional District of Nanaimo is currently reviewing its bylaw enforcement services. (File photo)

Two electoral areas opt out of Regional District of Nanaimo’s bylaw enforcement review

Director wants residents to decide what’s good for them

Electoral Areas C and F want no part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s bylaw enforcement review engagement plan.

The directors for the areas, Maureen Young and Leanne Salter, respectively raised their opposition to the plan at the Electoral Area Services Committee special meeting held on July 21. Both indicated that harmonizing the bylaws that would by enforced to all the electoral areas will not work as they consider each jurisdiction to be different.

The committee passed a motion that Electoral Areas C and F be excluded from the bylaw review engagement plan. Electoral Area A director Keith Wilson opposed.

RDN staff were directed by the board last year in March to conduct a review of the regulatory services and proceedings to identify any gaps that may exist in bylaw enforcement in the electoral areas. Some of the bylaws are outdated as they were adopted some 30 years ago and based on community standards at the time.

As part of the review, the plan is to reach out to stakeholders and the public through its ‘Get Involved RDN’ project page online and social media to ask them for input and feedback that will assist RDN staff to develop recommendations that will make bylaws effective and efficient in the electoral areas.

“I am not interested in what stakeholders somewhere out there are thinking about Area F,” said Salter. “It is the people who live here in Area F that I would be directed by.”

Alternate Area F director Julian Fell also spoke against the engagement plan.

“If other directors want to harmonize their regulations then fine, that is their business, but Area F should not be forced into this,” said Fell. “Area F works much better with its own bylaws and its own way of life. What staff call a gap is not a gap if the missing bylaw is neither wanted nor needed. A bylaw that is good for city sized lots in Area G has little application to the acreages of Area F.”

Fell also pointed out that a large portion of residents in Area F don’t engage in social or electronic media.

Area F is currently conducting its Official Community Plan review. However, the public engagements that were scheduled to take place this year were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which bans huge public gatherings.

“Any new bylaws or rules and regulations, would come via the OCP when I engage with that community,” said Salter.

Young indicated she has read the report on the proposed review and cited that in 2018, complaints in Area A, B, and C went down while in it went up in Areas E, F, G and H. One of the gaps residents in her area are concern about is the lack of communication from the RDN.

General manager, strategic and community development, Geoff Garbutt said based on the detailed overview and background work they’ve done on each electoral areas’ bylaws, Area F has the most limited number of regulatory bylaws.

“It has the highest number of calls that we’re not able to act on,” said Garbutt. “So I can tell you that noise, property maintenance, and animals because animal control in the area is limited, those are what the residents are asking us. So what we have brought forward is to talk to people.”

Garbutt clarified that they want to gather as much input from the public as to what they’re issues are and report them back to the directors for options and considerations.

“What is interesting is that between each electoral area the bylaws tend to be relatively old, the language is old and the issues that people are raising in some cases aren’t directly affected by them,” said Garbutt. “And so we see, because our communities are interconnected although distinct, when someone builds a house in Area G and F, there are no limits.”

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