The District of Lantzville is looking to put a few more tools in the belt of bylaw enforcement.
Council has given third reading to a municipal ticketing system bylaw which will provide designated bylaw officers the authority to issue tickets for a variety of offenses, which range from $50 for parking within five metres of a hydrant to $500 for a vicious dog at large.
Under a recorded vote, the third reading passed during council’s Feb. 18 meeting with four in favour, and three opposed.
Mayor Jack de Jong said he is optimistic the bylaw will pass when it comes up for adoption on Feb. 25.
“I’m amazed – seven years since we were incorporated and we’ve never introduced a ticketing bylaw,” he said.
Bylaw enforcement in Lantzville is carried out by the Regional District of Nanaimo.
Without a ticketing bylaw in place, the municipality has traditionally sent out legal letters to people who repeatedly contravene a bylaw, which can be costly for both parties, de Jong said.
“Think of the animosity that creates. You get the lawyer’s letter, you get all up in arms and you go and see your lawyer.
“Once it gets into the legal phase, two things happen: you’re not happy because it costs you money to get a lawyer, but also the moment it becomes a legal issue, I have to discuss that in camera,” de Jong said. “We’ve been criticized for having too many in camera meetings, but every time it has been to do with some legal issue with bylaw enforcement.”
While there is concern that residents could start seeing excessive ticketing for things like simple parking discrepancies, de Jong said the intent of the ticketing bylaw is to target issues which have been historically a problem, such as backyard burning and animal control.
“The bylaw enforcement is not ticketing crazy, they use it as a last resort,” he said. “They’re not likely to give out tickets unless it’s really bothersome.”
Coun. Jennifer Millbank, one of three councillors to vote against a third reading, said she has no problems with implementing a ticketing process as a way for dealing with bylaw infractions, but would prefer to see a bylaw review completed first.
“Most of the bylaws in Lantzville were carpet-bagged from other jurisdictions and then frozen in time,” she said. “In my view, many of them don’t remotely resemble what happens on the ground in Lantzville and I don’t want the ticketing bylaw to turn regular, honest Lantzville citizens into lawbreakers overnight.”
A classic example of that is secondary suites, she said, noting there are a number of residents who rely on secondary suites in their home to help pay the mortgage or house senior members in their family.
“All of this is easily and happily tolerated by the community but under the strict letter of the law it is not permitted,” she said.
To view the full bylaw, please visit www.lantzville.ca and select the council agenda for Feb. 18.