People who do bylaw crime in Nakusp had better be ready to pay the bylaw fine.
The municipal government is moving to a new bylaw enforcement system that will make ticketing and fine collection easier.
“Because it’s costly for the village to enforce its bylaws, they just haven’t been enforcing their tickets,” says Cheryl Martens, the CAO for the Village of Nakusp. “That’s going to change.”
The village is moving to the bylaw enforcement notification system within the next two months, says Martens.
The two main features of a bylaw notice system are a simple front-end notice process for initiating enforcement, and a locally managed back-end venue for a professional and non-judicial adjudicator to hear ticket disputes.
The cost of enforcing bylaws — sending a staff person to Nelson to file the notice, then paying a lawyer to go to court to argue the village’s case on a $100 ticket — meant that most tickets issued by the village were issued with only a slim hope they would be paid.
“It got down to the point where we’d write a ticket, and maybe you’ll come down and pay for it,” she says. “If you don’t, we’d probably waive it.
“That’ll definitely change.”
The adjudicator will likely be someone in the village office, who’ll rule on whether there’s a good reason to waive or change the ticket.
“It’s easier and less costly for the village,” Martens adds. “And it’s also easier for the person disputing it.
“So instead of having to take a day off and go to court, you can actually write a letter or phone it in. And we don’t have to file anything. We just have to go through the process with an adjudicator.”
Martens — who doubles as the bylaw enforcement officer, as well as CAO — says enforcement will mean more respect for the goals of the bylaws and for other residents who obey the rules.
“When I do contact somebody and say ‘you need to comply to the bylaw,’ I get ‘well, 40 other people in the village aren’t doing it,’” she says. “The reality, though, is that you have to start somewhere.
“If we didn’t, then we might as well cancel all our bylaws.”
Martens couldn’t say how many outstanding or unpaid bylaw tickets are out there, nor how much revenue the new system will bring to the village. But it’s not expected to be a huge windfall for the local government.
“If the village made revenue from it, that would be nice, but I think the actual intent is cost recovery,” she says.
The goal instead is compliance with the bylaws.
“Education is the big thing. We’ll go through an education process with the public, have a meeting, talk about the process,” she says. “And once the public becomes educated that there’s a new process, and the village is going to enforce its bylaws, then people will probably be more compliant.”