In the board meeting on Sept. 23, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) board of directors approved a motion to prepare bylaws, policies and agreements to move forward with the implementation of a bylaw dispute adjudication (BDA) system, which is part of the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act.
The act was created in 2003 as a framework for a streamlined non-judicial system for local governments to deal with bylaw ticket disputes. The BDA system improves local government bylaw enforcement by providing an accessible venue for determining simple bylaw contraventions. Furthermore, it reduced the demands on the provincial court system, and is less expensive to administer than the court process.
The act allows local governments to jointly administer the BDA system over multiple jurisdiction. If the RDBN were to implement the system, they would have the option of creating a registry system that would act as the host local government, sharing the administration and overhead costs with individual municipalities.
Burns Lake, along with the Houston, Smithers and Vanderhoof have each expressed an interest in adopting their own BDA law, and then joining the RDBN regional registry. The board of directors believes that several other municipalities will follow suit in the near future.
The financial implications of implementing such a system would be minimal. Adjudicators would be scheduled for either half a day hearings earning $175 per day, or a full day hearing earning $350 per day. The cost for adjudicators would be paid for by the local government, however, the act allows for a surcharge of $25 for each hearing that’s won by the municipality, on top the fine amount to help with the costs associated with the process.
Other costs would include a screen officer’s time. Screen officers are a feature of the BDA system that are essentially meant to reduce the number of bylaw notices forwarded to adjudication.
In the BDA system, once a bylaw notice or ticket is received, it becomes legally effective and the recipient has a fixed period of time to either pay the fine or notify the local government that they wish to dispute the allegation. If the person does neither, the amount will be due and owing.
Implementing the BDA system would not remove local government’s ability to pursue more serious bylaw matters through higher fines from the courts when applicable.
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