Northern Rockies Regional Municipality

New Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System

 

Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System

Effective October 12, 2011, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) will implement a new system for disputing bylaw violations such as parking tickets, animal control offenses and property maintenance violations. The new system, called the Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System (BDAS), will replace the former Municipal Ticketing Information (MTI) system, allowing bylaw ticket disputes to go through an independent adjudicator, rather than through the Provincial Court system.

The system is established under the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act and is intended to resolve disputes in a simple, cost-effective manner. The new Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System will improve efficiency in the areas of dispute resolution and fine collection by delivering a streamlined process to the public.

Why use the new Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System?

· Simplifies and expedites the dispute processes by removing minor bylaw violations from the Provincial court system;

· Reduces costs associated with using the court system (lawyers and the time spent by enforcement officers waiting to testify);

· Includes a dedicated municipal staff member (the Screening Officer) to act as a resource to help residents dealing with bylaw tickets and the dispute process.

· Allows residents to dispute tickets in-person or in writing;

· Provides additional flexibility to encourage bylaw compliance as opposed to a strict enforcement focused system.

How does the New Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System work?

Option 1: Pay Violation Ticket

· The new system offers incentives for residents paying their fines on time. If the violation ticket is paid within 21 days, a ten percent “early payment” discount will be subtracted from the fine. Conversely, after 32 days an additional late surcharge of 10 percent will be added to the fine. If the violation ticket is paid, there are no further procedures. Schedule A of the Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw No. 59, 2011 provides a comprehensive list of bylaw fines covered and their corresponding early discounts/late penalties.

Option 2: Dispute Violation Ticket

· Those electing to dispute their violation ticket may do so by first contacting NRRM by phone, fax, email, or in person, within 21 days of issuance.

· Under the new system, a municipal Screening Officer (a separate position from the bylaw enforcement officer) will screen all applications for disputes. The Screening Officer will assist the disputant with the dispute process, provide information on their rights and obligations under the specific Bylaw and Acts in question, and help clarify any uncertainties about municipal regulations. Subsequently, the disputant may decide to pay the violation ticket fee. However, if the disputant wishes to continue the dispute then the matter will be heard by a provincially appointed and independent adjudicator. The disputant will be contacted by a Screening Officer who investigates and reviews details of the violation ticket. The Screening Officer may:

(a) cancel a violation ticket,

(b) enter into a Compliance Agreement and reduce the penalty upon completion, or

(c) uphold a violation ticket.

· The Screening Officer can cancel bylaw violation tickets in circumstances outlined in the NRMM's Screening Policy. In addition the Screening Officer also has the ability to enter into a compliance agreement with the disputant whereby the ticket fine is reduced in exchange for assurances of future compliance.

· If the Screening officer does not cancel a violation ticket, the disputant can then choose whether to pay the penalty in full or have the matter resolved though dispute adjudication.

· If proceeding to adjudication, the disputant will apply in writing for an adjudicator to hear the case. A date will be scheduled, and the adjudication will take place at the Northern Rockies Municipal Hall, typically via teleconference. It should be noted that the disputant is not required to personally appear at the adjudication. Representation may alternatively be made in writing, or over the phone. If the bylaw violation ticket is upheld, the full violation ticket charge, and a $25 adjudication fee (to offset the cost of the process) will be applicable and payable. If the adjudicator rules that the offence did not occur, the violation ticket is cancelled, no penalties are assessed and the adjudication fee is paid by the Municipality.

· For a visual representation of the Bylaw Dispute Adjudication process, please see the attached flowchart.

Summary:

By implementing a system comprised of dedicated arbitrators and mediators, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality as well as the Province of British Columbia ensures that all minor bylaw matters are resolved in a swift and efficient manner. This not only saves further taxpayer dollars, but also allows provincial and municipal time and resources to be used more effectively. As well, those challenging violation tickets will receive faster service through this streamlined and efficient system.

For more information regarding the Bylaw Dispute Adjudication System, please contact the NRRM Corporate Services Department.

Ross Coupé, Deputy Corporate Manager

250-774-2541 (ext 2032)

rcoupe@northernrockies.ca

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