Council to adopt ticket bylaw for enforcement

The District of Houston is reviewing a ticket bylaw, set to be adopted September 16, to enable them to use tickets to enforce bylaws.

The District of Houston is reviewing a ticket bylaw, set to be adopted September 16.

The bylaw empowers the Bylaw Enforcement Officer, Building Inspector and RCMP to enforce municipal bylaws by issuing tickets.

“Before this there was no mechanism for council to enforce bylaws,” said Chief Administrative Officer Michael Glavin.

“This is a complaint-driven process, with the exception of parking and some of the noise bylaw issues.”

The bylaw includes tickets for everything from failures to have a business licence for $100, to noise that disturbs or driving a noisy vehicle for $200, to obstructing authority for $1,000.

There are unsightly premises tickets ranging from $150 for allowing garbage to build up, to $250 for dumping trash in open spaces, to $500 for placing graffiti.

For business licence or sign infractions, tickets range from $50 to $100, and for screening and landscaping failures fines are $100.

Violations of the development bylaw may lead to tickets of $100 to $500.

Parking tickets are $100, obstructing a street is $100, and interfering with traffic is $500.

More tickets include failure to remove snow from sidewalk for $100, and impeding snow removal for $200.

Owners of unlicensed dogs could be fined $100, having pets at large is $100, allowing a dog to bark excessively is $200 and failure to muzzle a dangerous dog is $100.

All garbage disposal violations could lead to $100 fine, from having unlawful containers, to depositing animal feces waste, to having an overweight container.

Violating the standards of maintenance bylaw is $150 fine, including failure to keep a rental place weather tight or rid it of pests, to failure to maintain locks or supply proper water.

Director of Engineering John Guenther said the dollar amounts were determined by surveying other municipalities.

“These are more in the higher range rather then average range,” Guenther said, adding that the biggest fine is $1,000 for obstructing authority.

“The numbers that are given are meant to be a deterrent. It’s not meant to be a money gathering mechanism,” he said.

CAO Glavin said the fines also cover administration costs and staff time.

“It does cost the district a fair bit of money to issue these tickets,” he said.

Guenther added that issuing a ticket is very rare.

“We won’t be issuing lots of tickets… most of the time it’s a warning,” he said.

If a violation happens, the ticket process begins with warnings, then a ticket is personally delivered or left at a person’s home.

The person has fourteen days to pay the fine and accept liability for the offence, or to notify the local government that they will dispute the ticket. Ticket disputes go to court.

“It’s not a cash generating system, its a complaint-driven policy,” said Mayor Bill Holmberg.

“We’re not going to make any money off these tickets.The goal is to make people more responsible for what they’re doing.”

Police are enforcers for the traffic bylaw, animal control and noise bylaws.

RCMP Sergeant Stephen Rose says most of their enforcement will be complaint driven, and noise tickets are what they will issue most to deal with repeat offenders.

“Up to this point, all we’ve been able to do as police is respectfully ask people to turn down their music or move their party inside so that their neighbours can sleep.

However, if they refused to do so there was no enforcement action that could be taken,” Sgt. Rose said.

“It’s important because it allows us to begin making people accountable for being nuisances to their neighbours,” Sgt. Rose said.