EDITORIAL: City of Port Alberni needs bylaw office with teeth

The City of Port Alberni has tentatively approved spending money on a new bylaw department…

The City of Port Alberni has tentatively approved spending money on a new bylaw department. The city presently has one bylaw enforcement officer, and he can’t handle the existing load of calls: the pile is too great.

City council heard last week that planner Scott Smith is spending part of his time dealing with bylaws, and the RCMP are also dealing with bylaw complaints. Those are some pretty high-paid employees to be dealing with bylaw infractions.

There are many things that are spiralling out of control in the city, from crime to empty buildings Uptown to the high number of calls Port Alberni’s police department receives. If adding a second bylaw officer and a bylaw department manager will help ease the load, then the city must make this a priority.

The Licence Inspectors’ and Bylaw Officers’ Association of BC (LIBOA) notes that through progressive and proactive bylaw enforcement, local governments can deal with social nuisances, resulting in a more safe, livable and enjoyable community. We would venture further with this theme, adding that a larger bylaw enforcement department would allow others to get on with their own business—such as policing.

There is precedent for similar-sized communities to have such departments: the City of Parksville has two bylaw enforcement officers and makes it work.

The only way Port Alberni will begin to solve some of its problems is by being proactive, instead of reactive. Creating a bylaw enforcement department that has some teeth is a good first start.

— Alberni Valley News

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