Residents of the District of Coldstream involved in minor bylaw infractions, such as animal and zoning complaints, can now take their disputes to an independent adjudicator working outside the traditional courtroom, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton announced today at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.
Effective Sept. 30, 2013, the District of Coldstream, as well as the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the City of Williams Lake will join the bylaw adjudication system, which is offered through the Ministry of Justice.
The adjudication system saves local governments time and money and makes for more efficient use of court resources by eliminating the roles of court and court registries in the administration and hearing of these disputes.
Each jurisdiction determines which bylaws it would like included in the process. The District of Coldstream plans to use the system to enforce zoning, fire prevention, business, noise control, traffic and highway and snow removal and other similar bylaws more effectively and efficiently.
As part of ongoing reform to the justice system, the B.C. government is increasing the number of alternative ways to resolve disputes, when appropriate, without requiring individuals to use the courts. Court alternatives help to reduce stress, shorten the time required to resolve disputes and ultimately cut costs for both the individual and taxpayer.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
"Taking a matter to court can be a lengthy process. This system saves people time and helps reduce pressure on the courts without increasing costs to taxpayers. With the addition of the District of Coldstream, there are now 65 local governments using or developing the bylaw adjudication system."
Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster -
"No one wants to spend a lot of time in court if they don't have to. That's what's so great about the bylaw adjudication system. It allows people who are disputing bylaw infractions to deal with them quickly and efficiently outside a court room - saving everyone involved time and money. Congratulations to the District of Coldstream for signing on to the program and improving access to justice for its residents."
District of Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick -
"Bylaw Notice Enforcement is a tool that can be used as an alternative to Municipal Ticket Information in an effort to achieve compliance with district bylaws. The Adjudication System provides a simple, fair and cost-effective system for dealing with minor bylaw infraction and promotes the timely resolution of bylaw enforcement disputes."
- There are 65 local governments throughout B.C. using, or in the process of developing a bylaw dispute adjudication system.
- Dispute adjudication issues range from parking tickets to dog licensing and minor zoning infractions.
- The City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver were the first in B.C. to establish a bylaw adjudication system as part of a 2004 pilot project.
- Individual municipalities track the number of bylaws managed by the adjudication process, and have screening officers who attempt to resolve disputes prior to the formal adjudication. The overall process has resolved and adjudicated several thousand matters since the inception of the program.
- Independent adjudicators are appointed by the Deputy Attorney General.
- The qualifications are prescribed in regulation and include:
- Experience as an adjudicator of disputes.
- Post-secondary training in adjudication.
- Successful completion of specialized bylaw dispute adjudication training.
For a photo of Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton with District of Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick and MLA Eric Foster: http://flic.kr/p/fVcToz
For a photo of Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton with representatives from the four municipalities that have signed on to the bylaw: http://flic.kr/p/fVcPgr
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice