Bylaw officer emphasizes communications in carrying out his duties

Enforcement can follow if guidance is not followed

The District of Houston’s new bylaw officer is emphasizing communications as a key way of approaching his position.

Jason Thompson is the second bylaw officer since the District of Houston and the Bulkley-Nechako regional district agreed in 2020 to share the cost of a position to serve the needs of both jurisdictions.

The first bylaw officer left the position in mid-2022 and Thompson signed on last September.

From the regional district’s home office in Burns Lake, Thompson is to spend half his time within the regional district and half his time within the District of Houston.

“The regional district requires more individual engagement whereas Houston often requires more community as well as individual engagement,” said Thompson.

“Part of my role is to educate people as to why the bylaws exist and how a bylaw may apply to what they are doing. Some of the engagement I do with people both in Houston and the regional district is not directly related to a bylaw infraction but may help resolve a problem between them and their neighbours.”

Thompson said he investigates every complaint and may make multiple visits to a property.

“My primary function is to educate the people of Houston with regards to bylaw infractions that may apply to them. Every complaint I receive is investigated. If this process does not work in gaining compliance for potential bylaw infractions, my role is to escalate enforcement by further explanation or ticketing if required,” he said.

“The duties are similar for Houston and the regional district but have some differences. Houston for example requires a lot more engagement within the community and is in a small geographical area. There are also more bylaws in Houston then the regional district that may require ticketing.”

The District of Houston’s partnership with the regional district to share in the costs of a bylaw officer is part of the effort by the District to update its residential maintenance and other bylaws and then have the means to enforce those bylaws.

“Our organization cannot justify employing a full-time bylaw officer, however we do require bylaw enforcement assistance. Therefore, we are excited to partner with the Regional District of Bulkely-Nechako to split a position which serves both our jurisdictions,” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Michael Dewar.

The projected cost to the District of Houston, based on its draft 2023 budget, is $59,100.

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