Loose dog, barking dog, lost dog—all reasons to call Animal Control. But after that, there’s nothing more that can be done.
And that has Area D residents frustrated.
During the annual Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area D/Rural Grand Forks town hall meeting at the USCC Centre last week, several residents expressed their frustrations over a lack of bylaw enforcement. While Animal Control can ticket offending pet owners, collecting on the tickets must go through the courts, a very expensive process.
“I appreciate what (the bylaw) says, but I find it to be quite ineffective,” said one Area D resident during the meeting who has had problems with wandering livestock in his neighbourhood and is concerned the loose animals will be hit by vehicles.
“It’s very frustrating,” he continued to say of the poor response time he has experienced from Animal Control. “I haven’t gotten any real satisfaction.”
It is the same problem for infractions in zoning, waste management and burning bylaws. And without a bylaw enforcement officer, all other bylaw complaints, aside from animal control, go unanswered.
Russell said hiring a dedicated bylaw enforcement officer would be expensive but could be explored if area residents expressed an interest in having one.
“I would love to pay for an enforcement officer who was based in Grand Forks,” said Scot Stewart, owner of True North Distillery, during the meeting. “It’s a fairly important piece when you have a bylaw enforcement base with no teeth.”
To address these concerns, the RDKB will be looking into utilizing a bylaw adjudications process through the province to address minor bylaw infractions in an informal manner, said Area D Director Roly Russell.
“The Municipal Ticketing Authority has made a move so regional districts and municipalities will be able to issue tickets for certain types of bylaw infractions and give us a much better ability to act on those types of fines,” Russell said.
The current program is “an expensive program and financially problematic to anything that is not significant,” Russell said.
Most bylaw infractions are minimal. For example, the Animal Control Bylaw No. 1550 has a range of $15 for a dog or animal at large to $50 for failure to secure a vicious dog.
“Bylaw adjudication takes us out of court and moves us into a mediation process,” said RDKB Chief Administrative Officer John MacLean during the meeting.
A mediator and not a judge would then make the final decision on the ticket.
“These tools wouldn’t be active until the end of the year at the soonest, from my understanding,” Russell stated. The tool would allow the RDKB to respond to written complaints on more minor bylaw infractions of less than $500 with a tool that is more “agile” than court proceedings, he added.
The bylaw adjudication process will be explored further at the RDKB board meeting in April.