Bylaw Notice Dispute Adjudication System

INTRODUCTION

Under the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act, local governments may establish a bylaw notice adjudication system. This administrative system is an alternative to provincial court for resolving minor local government bylaw infractions.

The Town of Comox approved the implementation of a Bylaw Notice Dispute Adjudication System as a way to create a simple, fair and cost-effective system for dealing with minor bylaw contraventions. This system is intended to:

  • Simplify the bylaw dispute process for items such as parking, unsightly premises or watering infractions;
  • Allow for a quicker and more efficient way to resolve disputed Bylaw Notices, eliminating time spent in court for the Bylaw Enforcement Officer or witnesses, as well as the need for involvement of legal counsel;
  • Eliminate the requirement for personal service of Bylaw Notices, therefore making the system more cost-effective and efficient;
  • Help ensure and improve bylaw compliance.

The following positions are appointed as Screening Officers for the purpose of reviewing disputed Bylaw Notices (as set out in the Town of Comox Notice Enforcement Bylaw No. 1961, 2020):

  • Bylaw Enforcement Officer;
  • Chief Administrative Officer;
  • Corporate Officer;
  • Director of Development Services; and
  • Fire Chief.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What happens when I receive a Bylaw Notice?

A Bylaw Notice may be delivered in a variety of fashions including leaving it on a car (parking offences) or mailing it to the individual responsible for the contravention. Unless the Bylaw Notice is delivered in person, it is presumed to have been received, due and owing. Once the Bylaw Notice is received or presumed to be received, it becomes legally effective. Please note, when a Bylaw Notice is mailed, it is presumed to have been received on the seventh day after mailing, whereas a Bylaw Notice delivered on a parked vehicle is presumed to be received on the day it is left.

If you receive a Bylaw Notice, you may pay the fine amount or notify the Town of Comox you wish to dispute the allegation (note the Town must receive your dispute notice within 14 days). In the event you do neither, the amount of the Bylaw Notice will be due and owing.

Dispute Forms can be found on the back of the Bylaw Notice and mailed, emailed or faxed within 14 days as follows:

Town of Comox

c/o Screening Officer

1809 Beaufort Avenue

Comox, BC V9M 1R9

Fax: 250-339-7110

Email: town@comox.ca

If you choose to dispute the Bylaw Notice, it will be forwarded to a Screening Officer for review. The Screening Officer is authorized and permitted to do one of the following:

1. Cancel the Bylaw Notice;

2. Enter into a Compliance Agreement and reduce the penalty up to 50% upon compliance with the bylaw;

3. Uphold the Bylaw Notice.

If the Screening Officer upholds the Bylaw Notice, you will be given the option to request an Adjudication Hearing. If the Adjudication Hearing request is not submitted within 14 days of the issue date, it will not be accepted.

What is an Adjudication Hearing?

If the Screening Officer upholds the Bylaw Notice, you will be given the option to request an Adjudication Hearing. At the Adjudication Hearing, evidence shall be presented and the Adjudicator shall decide whether the offence did or did not occur. If the Adjudicator determines that an offence did occur, the Bylaw Notice must be paid in full, plus an additional $25 administrative fee. If an offence is deemed not to have occurred the Bylaw Notice is cancelled and no penalties are assessed and the adjudication fee will be waived.

What happens when you request an Adjudication Hearing?

1. Adjudication Hearing is Set
If you choose to go forward to an Adjudication Hearing, you will be contacted by a dispute coordinator to set the date of the adjudication hearing. You can choose your preferred method of participation: in person, by phone, or in writing.

2. Evidence Package
An evidence package will be sent to you which will include the evidence being presented at the hearing. This will be sent 14 days prior to the hearing. The package will contain statements, evidence and materials related to the matter.

4. Adjudicator Makes a Decision
At the hearing, an independent adjudicator will determine if the bylaw offence occurred or not. If the adjudicator determines an offence occurred, you will need to pay the full amount of the Bylaw Notice, plus a $25 adjudication fee. If the adjudicator determines no bylaw offence occurred, you will not have to pay the fine or adjudication fee. These adjudicators are contracted by the Provincial Attorney General Office and paid for by the Town.

5. Hearing Information
A dispute adjudication Hearing must be open to the public unless the determination is to be based on written materials. As per the Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act, if a person who has requested or required dispute adjudication is not heard by an adjudicator because the person fails to appear, the adjudicator must order that the penalty set out in the Bylaw Notice is immediately due and payable by the person to the local government indicated on the Bylaw Notice.

Please note:

  • The decision of the adjudication is final;
  • An adjudicator cannot reduce the Bylaw Notice amount;
  • Once disputed you can only cancel your dispute by paying your Bylaw Notice before the hearing;
  • A paid Bylaw Notice cannot be taken to adjudication;
  • MTI disputes must be disputed through the B.C. Provincial Court system.

What does the Compliance Agreement mean?

The Compliance Agreement portion of the bylaw allows for the Town and the individual responsible for the bylaw offence to meet and agree on a course of action to resolve the dispute. A discount is offered up to 50% of the maximum fine for certain offences when compliance is met. The offences where this discount is offered are where fines are more substantial or when the offence may reasonably allow for the Town to enter into an agreement to resolve the dispute.

What are the available payment options?

There are a variety of options to pay a Bylaw Notice. Click here to review.