Calls to city bylaw service on the rise

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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The number of calls into the city’s bylaw department is on the rise, with officers responding to 3,711 calls last year.

 

City Hall

This number is up nine per cent since 2012 and 26 per cent since 2011.

“It was a good year,” city bylaw manager Suzanne Stubbs said while looking over the department’s annual report that was released to the public this week.

“I’m on my eighth year, and every year our calls go up. As people realize about our bylaw department, people do use us more.”

Stubbs said that she doesn’t believe that more people are breaking city bylaws, but that more people are becoming aware of what city bylaws are, and of what officers can do.

“People are kind of getting to know the effectiveness of bylaw enforcement, and they know that if they put in a call -- we deal with every call.”

Although the city’s bylaw enforcement team of five special constables and one bylaw manager do not work 24/7, bylaw enforcement does not take any breaks, she said.

Complaints can be made at any time at city police’s non-emergency line, at 953-4222. Bylaw will either respond to the complaint when they have a chance, or police will respond if an immediate response is necessary, Stubbs said.

“A lot of people call us right away, but we ask, try talking to your neighbour first, and if you don’t get results you’re more than welcome to call us,” Stubbs said.

“Some people honestly do not feel comfortable talking to their neighbours, so … give us a call and we’ll be the ones to go and speak with them.”

A significant priority in recent months has been improving public compliance when it comes to housing standards, the annual report reads, noting that a 35 per cent increase in unsightly property complaints (446) and an 86 per cent increase in housing complaints (97).

In 2013, the city bylaw department was successful in moving 15 properties to demolition.

I’m on my eighth year, and every year our calls go up. As people realize about our bylaw department, people do use us more. Suzanne Stubbs

“Although cases forward for demolition are time consuming and require a diligent legally-focused process, these success create a fresh building lot and an opportunity for community growth and value,” the report reads.

A recent priority put forth by the city’s elected officials has been with traffic enforcement -- particularly those parked in snow removal routes.

Bylaw responded to about 14 per cent more traffic complaints in 2013 than the previous year, bringing the year’s total to 787. During this time, 102 vehicles were seized.

In addition to ticketing and towing vehicles from snow removal routes, city bylaw officers ticket and tow vehicles that have been parked on city roads for more than 48 hours.

Another success that has been highlighted in the annual report is with downtown visibility, which has resulted in an 18.7 per cent reduction in calls for service in the area between 2012 and 2013.

Concluding that 2013 was “a great year,” Stubbs said that moving forward she hopes to see the public become more knowledgeable about city bylaws.

Going into the spring melt, she hopes to see residents take greater control of their pets.

“Now, a lot more people are now taking their animals outside for walks and we have received complaints about people walking their pets off-leash, and you can’t do that,” she said. “The animal has to be leashed at all times when it’s off your private property.”

Stubbs said that there have been a number of complaints about off-leash pets recently -- particularly along the Rotary Trial -- as well as people neglecting to pick up their pets’ feces. 

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