EDITORIAL: Toothless bylaws

How much use are bylaws if there's limited enforcement?

It’s one thing to create a raft of well-meaning bylaws for the community’s books.

Enforcement of said bylaws is an entirely different matter.

The City of Parksville, for example, is close to creating a bylaw that spells out the fines structure for people who don’t adhere to water restrictions. Everything water related is under the microscope during these drought conditions and some residents have expressed anger — and called the city to complain — after watching their neighbours wash their vehicles or power wash a driveway for hours.

City council gave three readings this week to a bylaw that would empower an officer to impose a $100 fine on a resident who is in contravention of water restrictions. Dismiss for now the fact a $100 fine is not much of a deterrent.

Traditionally in Parksville, city councils have directed staff to stress compliance rather than punishment for bylaw infractions (except parking apparently, but that’s a different story for a different time). In other words, bylaw officers are supposed to do the Canadian thing and be nice to those who many be in contravention of a bylaw, give them a warning and some literature instead of an immediate ticket. One specific sign bylaw infraction has been on the books in this city without serious enforcement action for seven years, for example.

So, for starters, that direction needs to change, especially in relation to water-use violations.

Then there’s the staffing issue. The city has one bylaw enforcement officer. That person works days, Monday to Friday and presumably has weeks of vacation time. There’s talk using other staff as members of some “water patrol” for the new bylaw, but those people won’t likely work past 4:30 p.m. or on the weekends.

Council had the opportunity to add a bylaw officer in recent budget talks but declined. One reaps what one sows.

If council changed its direction on bylaw enforcement, could the officer generate enough ticket revenue to pay for another officer? Not likely.

On the surface, it seems council is creating bylaws or defining fine structures to make themselves feel like they are actually doing something.

In reality, council is doing nothing about the problem, except perhaps setting the table for a future council that might actually have the courage of its convictions.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

KD Air flights ceased until early March for airline improvements

Focus largely on flight schedules and convenience

Parksville to host firefighters bonspiel

The Parksville Fire Department will host, for the first time, the 61st… Continue reading

Wine, beer and foodies unite to celebrate 11th annual Parksville Uncorked

Four-day festival takes place from Feb. 21 to 24

Jeep bursts into flames on highway near Nanoose Bay

Emergency crews responded to blaze at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read