|1 Policy Statement|
|2 Purpose of this policy|
|7 Guiding Principles|
|8 Making a call for service|
|9 Recording, assessing and responding to calls for service|
|10 Reporting outcomes|
|12 Related procedures, guidelines and publications|
|13 Waiving of requirements|
1 Sets out direction to Employees and information for the public about:
(a) the City's approach to bylaw enforcement;
(b) how to make a Call for Service;
(c) how Employees will record, assess, and respond to Calls for Services; and
(d) how Requestors will be informed of outcomes.
2 To promote the efficient use of City resources and provide a general framework on how the City responds to Calls for Services related to a bylaw contravention.
3 This Policy applies to all Employees engaged in bylaw enforcement activities on behalf of the City.
4 (1) Schedule “A” contains definitions of terms used in this Policy.
(2) Unless otherwise provided in this Policy, words and phrases used herein have the same meanings as in the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, Local Government Act [RSBC 2015] c. 1, R.S.B.C. 2015, and Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, or as the context and circumstances may require.
(3) A reference to a statute refers to a statute of the Province of British Columbia, and a reference to any statute, regulation or bylaw refers to that enactment, as amended or replaced from time to time.
(4) Words in the singular include the plural and gender specific terms include both genders and corporations.
(5) Headings in this Policy are for convenience only and must not be construed as defining, or in any way limiting the scope or intent of this Policy.
(6) If any part of this Policy is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the invalid part is severed and the remainder continues to be valid.
5 In this policy
"Bylaw Adjudication System" means a front-end ticketing process for initiating enforcement and a locally managed “back-end” venue for a non-judicial adjudicator to hear ticket disputes.
"Bylaw Enforcement Officer" has the same meaning as set out in the City's Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw, 2007.
"Bylaw Services" means the City's Bylaw Services Division.
"Call for Service" means when a call is made to the City for service of bylaw enforcement
"City" means the City of Abbotsford.
"Compliance Staff" means Bylaw Enforcement Officer and other persons acting on behalf of the City for the purpose of processing Calls for Service and/or providing subject matter expertise for enforcement
"Contravener" means the person deemed in contravention of a City bylaw.
"Council" means the Council of the City of Abbotsford.
"Employee" means an employee of the City.
"Manager" means any Employee of the City which is deemed to be a non-union position, and which has direct reports.
"Operating Procedures" means the specific procedure established for a City department or division.
"Requestor" means the person requesting a Call for Service.
"Strata Council" has the same meaning as set out in the Strata Property Act, S.B.C. 1998.
6 (1) Bylaw Services:
(a) provides general oversight of the City's progressive bylaw compliance model to promote consistency and efficiency in the City's approach;
(b) manages the Bylaw Adjudication System, more formal legal enforcement remedies, and collection of debts arising from bylaw offences; and
(c) conducts the City's bylaw enforcement activities; however, in some circumstances, it may be necessary to include staff from other divisions depending on the nature of the contravention.
(2) It is the responsibility of the Manager to ensure that staff are aware of this Policy and perform their job duties in accordance with this Policy.
7 (1) Education is the foundation of the City's progressive bylaw compliance approach; the mandate is to achieve voluntary compliance with the City's bylaws through:
(a) Step 1: Community education including, but not limited to, posted traffic signs;
(b) Step 2: Voluntary compliance on a case by case basis; and
(c) Step 3: Formal legal enforcement including, but not limited to, bylaw notices, municipal tickets, and court proceedings.
(2) Requestors may be asked to take additional steps before making a Call for Service before the City agrees to investigate the matter.
(3) The following factors are considered when deciding whether or not to investigate a matter:
(a) adverse impact to the environment or public safety;
(b) the impact of the contravention on the community;
(c) the impact of the contravention on the Requestor;
(d) any general directives from Council.
(4) Immediate action may be taken, including foregoing education and warnings, in situations where:
(a) environmental or human health, safety, or security are at risk;
(b) the infraction is occurring on City owned lands; or
(c) the Contravener knows or ought to have known that their actions contravene the City's bylaws.
(5) Response to Calls for Service is generally triaged as follows:
(a) Priority #1: Safety and Liability
(i) The alleged bylaw contravention has the potential to cause material adverse impact to the environment or public safety.
(ii) These types of calls will be responded to as soon as possible, based on available staff resources.
(iii) Prior warning or education may not be appropriate in these cases.
(b) Priority #2: Impact – (three (3) or more Requestors)
(i) The alleged bylaw contravention is negatively impacting three (3) or more adjacent property owners or occupiers but does not pose an immediate risk to the environment or public safety.
(ii) A general compliance approach will be followed, beginning with education and compelling voluntary compliance.
(iii) When responding to repeat offences, the response is to proceed directly to Step 3 of its enforcement approach, as set out in paragraph (a) (iii).
(i) Compliance Staff will respond to general calls as resources permit, and in accordance with their Operating Procedures.
(ii) Compliance Staff will investigate the matter, focus on education, and provide opportunities for voluntary compliance.
(iii) Discretion may be used to determine whether it is in the City's or the community’s best interest to pursue the matter.
8 (1) Calls for Service can be made using the City's online feedback form, by email, by phone, or in person.
(2) All Calls for Service will be entered in the City's database for tracking, follow-up, resolution and statistical record.
(3) When submitting a Call for Service, Requestors must provide their name, address, telephone number, and email contact information, and the exact address where the alleged contravention has occurred.
(4) Requests based on a general description of a house or location may not be investigated.
(5) The City keeps the identity of every Requestor confidential.
(6) The anonymity and confidentiality given to Requestors and alleged Contraveners under this Policy cannot be assured in all circumstances, particularly if a Call for Service has been publicly disclosed by the Requestor, or if an investigation results in court proceedings.
(7) The identity of Requestors, the details of the City's investigation and enforcements, and any identifying information will only be used and disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996.
(8) Situations in which Requestor information or enforcement history may be disclosed include:
(a) if required by Court order, warrant or other similar judicial or quasi-judicial process;
(b) if required under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996;
(c) if required as part of the disclosure process in the event of a prosecution or civil proceeding; or
(d) if the person to whom the personal information pertains consents to the disclosure.
(9) As a last resort, it may be necessary for witnesses to provide evidence at an adjudication hearing or in court proceedings.
(10) A Requestor should be informed of the possibility that their evidence may be required at an adjudication hearing or in court proceedings at the time of the initial Call for Service or during the investigative process.
(11) Except in situations of significant risk to the environment or human safety, the Requestor will be provided the option of consenting to the disclosure or withdrawing the Call for Service.
9 (1) Upon receipt of a written Call for Service:
(a) a non-compliance “NC” file will be started; and
(b) the alleged bylaw contravention will be investigated and enforced based on priority, set out in section 7 (5), subject to the availability of City resources.
(2) While all Calls for Services are received and recorded, not all will be investigated in person.
(3) In general, an anonymous Call for Service will not be acted upon unless the alleged contravention adversely impacts the environment or public safety, or upon the recommendation of the Manager.
(4) Bylaw Enforcement Officers will exercise discretion when determining appropriate enforcement action, including the best method to gain compliance.
(5) Bylaw Enforcement Officers will conduct site inspections in accordance with applicable law.
(6) Employees must act in accordance with this Policy and Operating Procedures.
(7) Relevant consideration for assessing and responding to Calls for Service, including exercising discretion, in consultation with the Manager, to determine appropriate action includes but is not limited to:
(a) the nature of the contravention;
(b) the duration of the contravention;
(e) the short term and long term impacts of the contravention;
(f) the potential to establish precedent; and
10 (1) The City's compliance resources are triaged, as set out in section 7 (5), to ensure the timely receipt and investigation of service calls.
(2) It is not the City's practice to proactively provide ongoing updates to Requestors.
(3) Requestors should keep the Bylaw Enforcement Officers apprised of whether a situation improves or worsens.
(4) If the investigation determines that a bylaw contravention has occurred, Bylaw Enforcement Officers will work with the Contravener to reach a resolution.
(5) Confidentiality is necessary to ensure investigational integrity.
(6) Compliance Staff will respond to specific requests for information, subject to confidentiality requirements, as time permits.
(7) Requestors will be advised when a matter has been resolved.
11 Where an issue arises in a strata-titled building, concerns must be taken up with the respective Strata Council or property management company for investigation and enforcement.
12 The following documents are related to this Policy:
(a) Bylaw Notice Enforcement Bylaw, 2007;
(b) Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996;
(c) Municipal Ticket Information Bylaw, 2007; and
(d) Officer Designation and Delegation of Authority Bylaw, 2018.
13 Subject to applicable enactments and the City's bylaws, the City Manager may waive this Policy or authorize an exemption on a case-by-case or class basis.