BYLAW ENFORCEMENT IN METCHOSIN
The APRM is working to strengthen bylaw enforcement in Metchosin.
On February 1, 2021 we submitted comments to Metchosin Council on the Bylaw Enforcement Review it released on January 15, 2021. You can see the APRM's comments by clicking this link.
Our latest letter (Jan. 2022) to Council on its amended Bylaw Enforcement Policy can be found here.
The District is seeking public input on its bylaw Enforcement Review later this year. Please watch for your opportunity to speak out. You can see the District's Review by clicking here.
The APRM's March 2021 ad in the Muse featured a photo from a garbage fire on a Sooke Road property. This was one of three large garbage fires that occurred on that property from in 2016-17. There is no evidence of any fines being collected from the landowner. Meanwhile, other bylaw issues arise that are not addressed effectively.
See the APRM's February 2021 ad in the Metchosin Muse.
Concerns over Bylaw enforcement is a longstanding issue in Metchosin. The issue gained even more attention in 2019 after residents renewed efforts to stop illegal dumping in Metchosin.
The APRM held a session on bylaw enforcement in May 2019. Here’s what we heard:
Ineffective bylaw enforcement is apparent at many levels.
Sites were identified where there was significant environmental destruction from flagrant disregard of District bylaws, particularly around tree cutting and dumping.
Fines are too low, or simply not imposed on violators, and so do not deter illegal activity. Fines may even be perceived by some violators as simply “the cost of doing business.”
Some District bylaws need strengthening, but more importantly, we need a new commitment to effective enforcement.
In October 2019, the District held a workshop with the B.C. Ombudsperson on effective bylaw enforcement for local governments. The session covered key points from a publication by Ombudsperson office called Bylaw Enforcement Best Practices Guide for Local Governments.
"While voluntary compliance is cost-effective, it is still important for local governments to take enforcement action when necessary. Failure to do so will, over time, reduce the credibility of a local government’s bylaws and will likely reduce voluntary compliance.”
- p. 11. BC Ombudsperson's Bylaw Enforcement Best Practices Guide for Local Governments
Residents attending the session provided the following feedback:
The complaint-driven approach - where investigations commence only when residents make formal complaints - has limitations.
Better communication is needed after complaints are filed.
There's arbitrary decision making in Metchosin with respect to fines (or lack of fines), or which complaints are pursued.
The District should undertake a regular review of bylaws, and involve Metchosin residents in these reviews.
Following this session, Council began the process of reviewing its approach to bylaw enforcement. As a first step, the Chief Administrative Officer was directed to conduct an internal audit of the District’s bylaws and report to Council.
The APRM looks forward to seeing this report and to working with the District to continue making bylaw enforcement more effective and a means of protecting rural Metchosin.
Did you know…?
In one well documented case, a Metchosin resident cut down an estimated 600 trees on his property without the correct permits. The fine was $3,000. This same resident then had hundreds of loads of fill deposited on his property without any permits. Garbage, including drywall, was observed from this dumping. Well over three years into this issue there has been no word of penalties or consequences for the landowner.