By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan 23, 2015
District of Squamish will take part in an adjudication system in 2015 to streamline its fine collection process.
The district plans to be a part of the North Shore Bylaw Notice Dispute Adjudication Registry to create a simple, fair, and cost effective way to collect fines.
The adjudicator will assess and determine the fines, reducing the burden on the district to collect fines through the court process.
“It’s an effective system of dealing with minor bylaw infractions,” said Mayor Patricia Heintzman.
The district relies currently on voluntary compliance, which means an animal control officer can impose fines but has no way to ensure the fines will be actually paid.
The Reporter analysed five years of tickets and found that at least 67 per cent of animal control tickets had yet to be unpaid.
At least 57 out of 85 fines remain unpaid in the last five years; some fines haven’t been paid since 2009.
The district relies on voluntary compliance, but it can also initiate formal court proceedings.
It rarely goes that route, however.
Court costs can be prohibitive and staff resources are limited, said district spokesperson, Christina Moore.
By being a part of the North Shore adjudication process, the district hopes to promote an effective resolution of bylaw disputes.
District hopes the adjudicator will eliminate the need to hire a legal counsel, avoid unnecessary attendance of witness, and take a more resolution approach.
City of North Vancouver, West Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver use the adjudication system since 2003.
A 2005 analysis found out the adjudication reduced the length of time it took to have a ticket disposed, improved the fine payment rate, and reduced the ticket dispute rate.
Mayor Patricia Heintzman said the district is working with community groups like Rdogs to find solution to off-leash and other dog related issues in Squamish.
“We want to Squamish to be a safe friendly place and we want solutions to come from the community,” she said.
Heintzman said with community consultation, one quick win would be to designate some areas in town as off-leash areas.
Eventually, the district would move towards creating more off-leash dogs, she added.
She said the district would also like to get more people to sign up for dog licences by creating a local business incentive with pet shops, etc.
More money from the dog licences can go to augmenting the animal control.
“We need to create partnerships with volunteers and community groups to raise awareness,” she said.
She said the district will also evaluate how the budget cuts have impacted the animal control officer.
Rdogs coordinator Maren Muller Bruun and Joanna Scwarz said they will work with the district on finding solutions to some of the dog-related issues.
The group is planning a fundraiser, and working on adopt a trail and canine ambassadorship program to be implemented in Squamish.