With the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako continuing to develop its plan for a regional recreation function, it’s also turning its attention on how to regulate the use of and activity in parks and on trails.
And judging by a presentation to the District of Houston council Aug. 3, one kind of ticketing system for violating bylaw provisions would be of a benefit to the local governments who are part of the regional district.
That system is called the bylaw dispute adjudication (BDA) system, which the regional district says is less expensive and more efficient to use than a more formal municipal ticket information (MTI) system, which involves provincial court appearances if a ticket is disputed.
Municipalities in the northwest, such as the District of Houston, currently use the MTI system. Court appearances could amount to several thousand dollars and there is no recourse for recovery of legal costs in provincial court, reads a memo presented to Houston council from regional district bylaw officer Darrell Hill.
“The high cost of dealing with disputed tickets is a deterrent to using MTIs,” the memo indicated.
A BDA system, on the other hand, “reduces the demand on the court system, is less expensive to administer than the court process, and is a better balance between the amount of the penalty imposed (at a maximum set by regulation, currently $500) and the cost of pursuing the bylaw contravention in court,” the memo continued.
The BDA system is so named as it involves a local government and the person ticketed using an adjudicator with the memo calling it “simple, fair and cost-effective for dealing with minor bylaw infractions that involve a streamlined process outside of the provincial courts system.”
“The function of the adjudicator is strictly to confirm or cancel the bylaw notice,” the memo introduced by Hill stated.
And in considering a matter, the adjudicator can review documents submitted by either party or hear from the parties or witnesses over the telephone.
Aside from efficiency, the regional district memo also said there would be cost savings by having local governments share an adjudication format.
Combined adjudication hearings result in overall reduced administrative costs and allow more frequent hearing dates.
And a local government can have a staffer acting as a screening officer who can cancel a ticket at their discretion in case, for example, there is a compliance agreement.
By tradition, council does not comment on presentations made to it nor does it make an immediate decision if one is requested.
The same memo as presented to Houston council is also being presented to the other local governments in the regional district area.