Paul Demenok.

Column: Bylaw helps police tackle noise complaints

At the January CSRD board meeting several bylaws were advanced which may be of prime interest to the public.

At the January CSRD board meeting several bylaws were advanced which may be of prime interest to the public.

The Solid Waste Tipping Fee Bylaw 5759 was amended to allow for free, year-round disposal of yard and garden waste and metals (including appliances and the fee for ozone depleting substances or ODS). Several points support this change, namely:

• A number of weather-related events have resulted in requests to waive tipping fees to accommodate clean-up of debris from storms, wind and floods. Waiving tipping fees can only occur with CSRD board approval, so substantial delays may occur before implementation. It also necessitates use of grant-in-aid funds, which reduces funds available for other community initiatives.

• A Major Appliance Recycling Roundtable (MARR) stewardship group has been formed in B.C. to help finance recycling of major appliances. Incentives offered from MARR along with the market value of scrap metal have eliminated the need to charge tipping fees for metals, appliances and ODS.

Key amendments to this bylaw, in effect Feb. 1, 2018, include removal of the metal disposal fee, removal of the ODS fee, increase of the wood waste disposal fee to $40/tonne, reduction of the concrete disposal fee to $80/tonne, reduction of the compost purchase fee from $30/cubic meter to $15, and an increase of the specified risk material fee to $240/tonne. These changes will not significantly increase taxes because of the revenues involved.

At the January board meeting, Noise Bylaw 5754 received second reading. This bylaw has been in discussion for some time and attempts to address a very difficult enforcement issue.

Senior officers from RCMP detachments in Salmon Arm, Chase and Revelstoke met with electoral area directors to discuss noise complaints and unanimously recommended that a noise bylaw be implemented. Their request was based on the need for another way to deal with noise complaints, other than a Criminal Code approach. They noted that criminal charges associated with noise complaints would often be defeated in the courts. With the adoption of a noise bylaw, RCMP officers would be able to issue a ticket which would carry a fine. It was felt that this approach brings the remedy more in line with the nature of the offense. Moreover, if a particular property is associated with a history of ticketed complaints, then a following criminal charge was felt to have a greater likelihood of succeeding.

It was very useful to consult with the RCMP as it was recognized that CSRD bylaw enforcement staff would not usually be involved with noise complaints. Most noise complaints occur after hours and attempted enforcement by CSRD staff would raise serious and unacceptable safety concerns in addition to staffing and cost issues.

It was also recognized that noise bylaws are very difficult to enforce, particularly in rural areas. Understandably, a noise complaint is a much lower priority than a traffic accident or criminal act, and given the distance between the nearest RCMP detachment and Area C, time and ability to respond is an issue. Another issue affecting this is the collection of objective evidence that can be effectively used in court.

Hours of enforcement for the noise bylaw will be from 12 a.m. to 7 a.m. This bylaw will not deal with complaints outside these hours, nor will it deal with noise complaints involving boats. While it is recognized that any noise bylaw will be imperfect, I think Bylaw 5754 a good step forward and will be helpful in many situations.

-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District

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