Regional District of Nanaimo’s water bylaw amended to include fines

NANAIMO – Tickets can be issued for violating water use regulations.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to add bite to its water-use regulation bylaw.

Regional district board directors voted in favour of a ticket regulation bylaw amendment at the committee of the whole meeting Tuesday night and it will come into effect if approval is given at their July 28 regular meeting.

The regional district adopted the water bylaw in 2012, but due to an oversight, didn’t update the ticket enforcement bylaw, according to Mike Donnelly, manager of water and utility services.

Violations, such as excessive water use and water use contrary to restrictions, will net first-time offenders a $50 fine. A second offence will net $150, while a third will net a $300 ticket.

Illegal diversion of water from the system and allowing appliance deterioration, thus leading to water waste, are other offences which can lead to fines.

The regional district elevated its water restrictions to Level 4 last Thursday and Donnelly said the proposed amendment was also spurred by water shortages. He said the amendments are there in case of problem residents. Residents normally are quick to comply, however.

“We see the need to make sure that our bylaws are aligned, so if it comes to it, we can ticket,” said Donnelly. “I actually don’t see us going that far, just because the residents we’ve worked with over the years, we’ve never really had to push things that far.”

Typically, violations can be chalked up to misunderstandings, he said.

With the low snowpack brought on by a mild winter, coupled with lower rainfall, water levels have been a priority for Donnelly and the regional district. Level 4 restrictions have helped since coming into effect, but there needs to be more, he said.

“We have seen a drop in water usage and that’s pretty well across the region,” said Donnelly. “We need to see more of a drop and we need to maintain that lower level of use right through the summer.”

Donnelly said compared to last year at this time, the regional district’s water level is where it would normally be at the end of August.

The bylaw amendment also includes language for other offences, such as sound and dog complaints.