Grey Highlands councillor Joel Loughead has expressed concerns with how bylaws are enforced in the community.
At council’s meeting on Feb. 7, Loughead raised the issue when council received the 2023 fourth quarter bylaw enforcement report as part of its consent agenda.
Loughead said he had heard from multiple residents concerned that bylaws are not being fully enforced.
“They’re unsatisfied with the level of enforcement,” said Loughead. “I have received more than one complaint, from more than one person. They feel bylaws aren’t being enforced as written.”
Grey Highlands contracted out bylaw enforcement in June 2022. Private company - James Special Services Inc. (JSS) provides the service for the municipality. The company provides regular reports to council about enforcement activities.
After hearing Loughead’s comments, CAO Karen Govan provided council with an overview of how bylaw enforcement is conducted in the municipality. She said JSS is doing a “great job” and the municipality has more “proactive” enforcement now than it has had in the past.
She said complaints that come in to municipal staff are forwarded to JSS for further investigation.
“If they believe there is an infraction, they can lay charges or issue a warning,” said Govan.
Govan said there may be some misunderstanding in the public about what happens after a complaint is made. The CAO said a local resident making a bylaw-related complaint does not receive a follow-up report about what action was taken.
In addition, there are no reports about individual bylaw enforcement issues to council, because in the event of an appeal of a bylaw charge - council hears the appeal.
“Council is the body that decides that,” said Govan.
The CAO also said that bylaw enforcement is often very subjective. As an example, she said a property that one person views as an “eyesore” may not be viewed the same as others.
“It is very passionate with some of our community members,” said Govan.
The CAO also encouraged councillors who receive complaints or concerns about bylaw enforcement-related issues to bring that information to staff, who can then follow up directly.
“Staff need the opportunity to investigate the particular complaint,” said Govan. “We can certainly investigate non-bylaw enforcement. We need the information.”