Adjudication process sees first cases

NANAIMO – New bylaw dispute procedure in Nanaimo saves court time and cost

Resolving bylaw disputes is already proving faster and cheaper under Nanaimo’s new adjudication service, said Randy Churchill, city bylaw services manager.

Four ticket holders challenged fines at the city’s inaugural adjudication hearing last week.

While the process has only been used once, Churchill said it is already living up to expectations to reduce city costs and pressure on the courts.

One hearing a month in provincial court used to cost the City of Nanaimo $1,200 in legal fees and only 10 tickets could be challenged at a time. Under the new adjudication service, the city can now deal with up to 18 bylaw issues for $400. The recent half-day adjudication tallied $200.

“It is just a better system of administering … [and] much simpler for disputes,” Churchill said. “It is a good move ahead for us.”

The City of Nanaimo and the B.C. Ministry of Justice jointly announced the new adjudication system earlier this year. The ministry said the new service would make better use of already overwhelmed court resources. City officials believed the adjudicator would better handle the uptick in parking disputes anticipated once parking enforcement was pulled in-house.

Under the new system people can wait close to six weeks for their challenge to be heard, compared to up to nine months in the courts. The city charges $25 for administration fees to those who lose the dispute, which Churchill expects will eventually cut down on the number of “frivolous” complaints and adjudication hearings held each year.