District of Invermere bylaw officers and staff are getting the power to hand out more tickets for a slate of offences including feeding deer, setting off illegal fireworks and using pesticide. But CAO Christopher Prosser isn’t expecting the extra enforcement to lead to many more tickets being written in town.
At its most recent meeting, district council agreed expand its ticketing bylaw to include a host of new offences from the town’s anti-idling, building, business license, unsightly property, zoning, fire prevention, pesticide, and deer and wildlife attractant bylaws.
Under the expanded bylaw, failing to obtain a business license could, for example, carry a fine of $150, while a “first offence” ticket for an unsightly property is $250. Depending on the bylaw flouted, tickets could be issued by enforcement officers, the fire chief, building inspectors or Prosser himself.
But Prosser told council the tickets aren’t meant to replace current bylaw enforcement methods, which focus on resolving complaints through conversation and education.
“Ticketing is our last resort for bylaw enforcement,” he told the Valley Echo. “We try and resolve everything through education and through information sharing, and try and find solutions for different things creatively.”
Since 2001, the district has had the power to hand out tickets to violators of the noise, dog, signage and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome warning sign bylaws.
In the decade since, Prosser said the number of tickets issued with fines attached was “probably between four and 10.”
But when the bylaw came up for debate, councillor Al Miller expressed concerns that more ticketing options could cause a shift in Invermere’s bylaw enforcement philosophy.
“There is no sense in having a bylaw unless it is enforceable, but I would hope that education prevails as our main force,” he said. “We are a small town and I don’t want people breaking the rules necessarily, but I hope we could enforce by education.”
Other councillors, however, said they’ve heard complaints regulations aren’t backed up.
“I do think people get frustrated when we’re not enforcing some of the things we’ve put into place,” said councillor Spring Hawes.
“By adding these as ticketable offences with fines attached, we’re better able to enforce some of the bylaws that exist now,” added mayor Gerry Taft.
Prosser said when the district does issue tickets it’s more likely they’ll be the “warning tickets” already in use, with financial penalties coming only “if we can’t get any response.”