One year after implementing a full bylaw services department, the City of Port Alberni is starting to see changes.
Flynn Scott, manager of bylaw services, was in council chambers on Monday, May 13 to explain how the department has shifted from reactive to proactive, meaning it now investigates files regardless of whether someone calls and complains or not.
Scott compared statistics from January to May of last year to the same time this year and showed that the number of complaint calls has increased from 146 last year to 395 this year. However, 8.5 times more files are being completed. At this time last year, said Scott, 110 of 146 files remained open because the department only had one bylaw officer.
“And he was doing it all,” added Scott.
According to Scott, the dramatic increase in completed files is the result of new administrative staff and organization, as well as taking a strategic approach to bylaw services.
“We’re in the business of customer service,” said Scott. “We’re able to respond to almost all of the complainants that phone in.
The department has also served six times as many tickets as last year, and the number of fines issued is also six times greater.
“This is a statistic I don’t enjoy reporting on,” admitted Scott. “I believe bylaw services is customer service based, so voluntary compliance and education is what we strive for, all the time.”
Scott also talked about the department’s newest initiatives. With the city’s Graffiti Removal Program, 49 different properties were tagged with graffiti this year. Of those 49 properties, only five have not been painted over yet, and only nine fines have been issued to property owners.
With the department’s Enhanced Security Initiative Program, Scott says 31 local businesses were accepted to receive matching funds for security upgrades. Each of these businesses will also have the opportunity to go over their property with an RCMP officer.
The bylaw services department will be undergoing another change in the coming months, as Scott has accepted another job in Ontario and will be leaving the City of Port Alberni. Scott was hired one year ago as the city’s very first manager of bylaw services.