If a bylaw may have been contravened, consider discussing the concern with that person first. Sometimes those committing contraventions are unaware of the regulations or the impacts their actions have on others. In these cases, they may correct their behaviour. However, in cases where a discussion has not been productive, or it is unsafe or uncomfortable to have such a discussion, there are two ways to submit a bylaw enforcement complaint to the Regional District:
Like many local governments, the Regional District's bylaw enforcement is primarily complaint driven and staff do not go actively looking for bylaw contraventions. Instead, residents can submit complaints about the issues that concern them for the Regional District to respond to. This allows the Regional District to focus its resources on the highest priority issues to the community.
As mentioned above, the Regional District’s bylaw enforcement is primarily complaint driven but it does not rely entirely on public complaints. Although contraventions are not actively searched out, the Regional District can begin an investigation without a complaint being received from the public as follows:
Normally public complaints must be submitted by at least two persons from the Electoral Area where the bylaw contravention allegedly occurred, or at least one person from within 500 metres of where it allegedly occurred, to ensure that complaints are from those most directly impacted. However, Regional District policy allows a manager to make exceptions if they believe it is warranted; for example, in situations where there is a significant health or safety risk.
Once filled out, the paper forms can be delivered, or mailed, to the Regional District office. Please make sure envelopes are marked:
Attn: Bylaw Enforcement
Regional District of Fraser-Fort George
155 George Street
Prince George, BC V2L 1P8
Normally complaints are fully investigated before determining whether or not they have merit. However, the Bylaw Enforcement Officer can refuse to investigate if there is evidence of a:
While a bylaw enforcement process is ongoing against a person, that person’s ability to submit complaints may be restricted. This means that while an investigation or legal proceedings are underway for a person, the complaints that person submits may be delayed until the process is finished. This doesn’t mean the complaint is completely disregarded, only that the investigation is on hold. An exception is made for complaints of health or safety risks, which can be investigated and dealt with immediately.
If a person submits a bylaw enforcement complaint primarily as retaliation, it is a vexatious complaint.
The Regional District does not accept anonymous bylaw enforcement complaints. A name, address and other contact information, like a phone number or email address, must be included when submitting a complaint. If this information is not provided, the complaint may not be investigated or acted on. Anonymous complaints make it impossible for investigators to contact persons for more information, to clarify issues and to provide updates.
Yes, the personal information submitted in complaints is protected and is not released to anyone, including the subject of the complaint, except in special circumstances where the law requires or authorizes the information to be disclosed. For example, if legal proceedings result from an investigation of the complaint (such as a trial or an adjudication hearing) then the Regional District may need to release the information as part of that legal process.
Normally, bylaw enforcement complaint forms must submitted, but in special circumstances an exception can be made at the Bylaw Enforcement Officer's discretion. An example would be if someone has difficulty with the because of a disability or condition making it difficult for them to write or use a computer. In those cases, the Bylaw Enforcement Officer may allow a person to submit a verbal complaint but, other than in exceptional circumstances such as these, if complaint forms are not submitted, it is possible the issue may not be investigated or acted on.
Many investigations are resolved voluntarily and do not result in legal proceedings. If legal proceedings are required, it is possible the person submitting the complaint will be called on to give evidence, either by attending the proceedings in person to testify, or by making a sworn statement in writing known as an affidavit. If they are not willing to do this, it may mean the Regional District cannot investigate or act on their complaint.
After a bylaw enforcement complaint is submitted, it will be assessed and/or investigated by the Regional District's Bylaw Enforcement Officer. Persons who make complaints may be contacted and asked for more information to help in assessing and/or investigating the complaint. Once the assessment or investigation is complete, the person will also be contacted and advised of the outcome.
At the end of an investigation, the Bylaw Enforcement Officer evaluates the evidence and decides whether it is sufficient to conclude that a bylaw contravention occurred. If there is sufficient evidence, the Regional District may take action which varies with the situation, but can range from a warning to a ticket to a full trial. In cases where there insufficient evidence a contravention occurred, then the investigation may be closed without any further action being taken.
There is no requirement that every bylaw contravention must result in enforcement or a penalty. The Regional District will consider all the relevant factors in deciding how to respond, and in many cases, it is better to resolve a contravention through voluntary compliance, rather than imposing a penalty.
For example, if a person has built something without a required permit, the Regional District may request they obtain the permit, or if a person has allowed unsightly garbage to accumulate on their land, they may be asked to clean it up. If the person voluntarily complies with these requests, the Regional District may consider the matter resolved and there may be no need for enforcement measures. However, if they refuse to cooperate with requests, or if there are other aggravating factors, like if the contravention is very serious or part of a pattern of repeated contraventions, then the Regional District may choose to proceed with enforcement action.
The penalties and enforcement actions will vary, based on applicable laws. For example, depending on the bylaw contravention, the person might be issued a ticket (with a penalty of up to $500 per day), they could be prosecuted in court with a full trial (with fines of up to $2,000 per day), or an order might be issued authorizing the Regional District to clean up their property and bill the costs back through property taxes.
For more information on the exact penalties and enforcement measures available, please contact the Bylaw Enforcement Officer at 250-960-4400 (toll free 1-800-667-1959).