LETTER: Bylaw officers a valuable tool for Alberni’s toolbox

I would like to address the concerns regarding the costs of bylaw enforcement…

To the Editor,

Re: Alberni wants more bylaw enforcement, but taxpayers don’t want to pay, Jan. 30.

As the vice-president of the Licence Inspectors’ and Bylaw Officers’ Association of BC (LIBOA), I would like to address the concerns brought by members of the public regarding the costs of bylaw enforcement and how the creation of a progressive bylaw department can improve community safety and livability.

Having bylaw officers provide support to resource stretched police services not only enhances community safety and livability, but they can reduce policing costs. As policing costs rise, bylaw officers can play a key role in law enforcement budgets. A single police officer can cost taxpayers $136,000 per year, if one is available, whereas a bylaw officer starts at approximately half that cost. Bylaw officers can provide a uniformed presence that can deter and decrease illicit activity, deal with low-level criminal matters and provide assistance to those in need; all things that elevate community safety . As bylaw officers are peace officers, they have the powers of detainment and arrest to not only protect themselves, but to protect the public and hold those that break the law accountable for their actions.

Through progressive and proactive bylaw enforcement, local governments can deal with social nuisances before they significantly bother the surrounding residents, businesses and visitors; resulting in a more safe, livable and enjoyable community. This type of enforcement can be referred to as the “broken window theory.” The theory states that maintaining and monitoring urban environments to prevent small crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and other minor quasi-criminal matters help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness,.

As for associated costs of bylaw departments, many individuals are not aware that municipalities can enforce moving violations through bylaws, with the exception of speed. In addition, many are unaware that bylaw officers have the authority to stop moving vehicles with appropriate training and equipped vehicles. Having a municipality enforce moving violations, allows for bylaw departments to increase road safety while off-setting department costs. As an example, a bylaw officer could enforce commercial vehicle safety, distracted driving, seat-belts and the running of red lights, with all fine revenue being returned to the municipality. As you can imagine, with the number of moving violations we as the public see on a daily basis, a department can address road safety concerns while very quickly becoming cost neutral.

For the benefit of the community, I hope that the city approves the budget for increased bylaw enforcement and increases the scope of officers’ duties to be able to address issues and enhance safety.

Steffan Zamzow,

vice-president, LIBOA

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