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Council approves new bylaw adjudication process

An independent adjudicator will soon handle minor bylaw infraction tickets for Nanaimo residents who wish to dispute them, saving both the city and resident a trip to the courtroom.

Nanaimo city council passed the first three reading of the new bylaw enforcement bylaw Monday.

Randy Churchill, the city's bylaw manager, said the new dispute process will  take about six weeks to resolve, instead of the current 12-month wait time required to go through the provincial court system.

The adjudication process also won't require the presence of bylaw or police officers to take part, freeing up time for members to perform core duties.

"Taking a matter to court can be a lengthy process and this system saves people time and helps reduce the pressure on the courts without increasing costs to taxpayers," said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Shirley Bond in a release.

Nanaimo's bylaw department writes around 2,000 tickets a year. With parking enforcement moving in-house, Churchill expects around 20 to 25 disputes a month.

Nanaimo will join more than 50 B.C. municipal governments using the adjudication system, piloted more than eight years ago in North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and the City of West Vancouver.

Disputes commonly include parking tickets, dog licences and minor zoning infractions, but each municipality is allowed to determine the bylaws it wants covered to cater to specific local needs.

The new system is expected to be implemented in Jan. 1.

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