Residents of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District 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 Thompson-Nicola Regional District, as well as the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the District of Coldstream 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 Thompson-Nicola Regional District plans to use the system to enforce water, utilities, unsightly premises, building, some zoning and other similar bylaw disputes more efficiently and effectively.
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 Thompson-Nicola Regional District, there are now 65 local governments using or developing the bylaw adjudication system."
Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart -
"The bylaw adjudication system is a great way for anyone disputing a bylaw infraction to deal with the matter quickly and efficiently outside the traditional court system. By signing on to the program, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and its residents will see time and cost savings, and the courts will be freed up to deal with more serious cases."
Thompson- Nicola Regional District Board Chair Randy Murray -
"I am happy to announce that as a part of our bylaw enforcement efforts, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District is pursuing joining more than 60 other B.C. local governments, including Sun Peaks and Barriere, both in the TNRD, already using the adjudication system."
"The adjudication system eliminates the roles of court and court registries in the administration and hearing of minor disputes. It is our hope that this system will make TNRD's bylaw enforcement more fair and expedient, saving time and money, and will make for more efficient use of court resources when necessary. We hope to partner with our member municipalities and potentially with other interested nearby local governments for adjudication administration."
- 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.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice