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Comox Strathcona Waste Management holds off on new bylaw dispute system

Board members hold off on third reading to allow for proposal to go for referral
Comox Strathcona Waste Management is looking at a new system for settling bylaw infractions. Image, CSWM video

The body that oversees waste management for the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts is looking at an easier way to hand out penalties for bylaw infractions.

Board members for Comox Strathcona Waste Management tackled the issue at the latest meeting on Dec. 2.

While the Comox Valley Regional District has already moved toward a bylaw dispute adjudication system as an alternative to the current Municipal Ticketing Information System (MTI), the members from the Strathcona region had not dealt with the issue and had reservations about moving ahead without further discussion. The new system would cover less serious offences that usually result in fines of no more than $500.

The staff recommendation on the agenda was for the board to give first, second and third readings to a bylaw to set up the bylaw dispute adjudication system.

A staff report notes an adjudication system would make enforcement of bylaw matters more efficient and less costly for both the public and the local government. The CVRD board approved its adjudication system at a meeting on Oct. 26 after receiving approval from B.C.’S attorney general in July to join the adjudication program. According to staff, 125 jurisdictions are using the bylaw dispute adjudication system.

Staff also told the board that the current MTI process ties up staff time in provincial court, which results in delays as the court gives priority to more serious matters.

RELATED STORY: New bylaw dispute system available in Comox Valley

Some board members pointed to the advantages of a new approach to the MTI and the courts.

“The courts are kind of a one-size-fits-all problem-solver,” said Will Cole-Hamilton, one of the Courtenay municipal representatives.

He also said he hoped it would result in more compliance.

“The end goal is to change people’s behaviour,” he added.

However, some board members from the Strathcona Regional District felt they had not had a chance to consider the change.

“This is the first time it’s come before our board,” said Charlie Cornfield, a Campbell River member.

Some had questions about the process through which people would be served. Others wanted to know about the process for more serious offences when it comes to waste infractions.

Chief administrative officer Russell Dyson responded the new system would not replace the province’s jurisdiction over serious dumping offences, which can be reported through the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline. The staff report also points out the new system would not override CSWM’s to pursue more serious through higher fines or court proceedings.

For now, the board voted to put the bylaw through the first two readings but hold off on the third reading and send it for referral.

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