Complaint and investigation process outlined for Bonnechere Valley by-law

Eganville -- The complaint and investigation process implemented by the Municipal Law Enforcement Services was presented in detail to Bonnechere Valley council last Tuesday.

“Our goal is to resolve the issue and prevent it from reoccurring,” Chief Bylaw enforcement Officer Jim McBain stressed.

The municipality hired the company last year to take over by-law enforcement services. This is the second presentation in a month from the company about procedures and further examinations of two by-laws which have been extensively rewritten. He was accompanied by his wife and partner, Darla McBain.

Only about 10 percent of the calls are confrontational when officers go out, he said. However, when things do go bad, it can get pretty nasty.

“Some are very, very menacing. Our officers have been spit on. They have been run at with vehicles. They have been run over by vehicles. They have had things thrown at them. It is a difficult situation in some cases,” he said.

The officers wear bulletproof vests, which can not only deal with bullets but also repel a knife or a dog.

“We also wear body cameras,” he said.

Councillor John Epps said it is a good idea for all officers to wear this on all calls as policy.

“So, someone can’t say, ‘you wore that because you think I am dangerous’,” he said.

If there is a known trouble spot, two officers will respond, Mr. McBain said.

“We know where the trouble spots are. We know who are the ‘misbehavers’, so we tell the officers, ‘do not go alone’,” he said.

For complaints like noise or a dog-at-large, by-law enforcement tries to be on scene as fast as possible. The first step is making sure it is a by-law issue, he said. If it is, the by-law officer on duty is contacted.

“Nine times out of 10 that will include a site visit that day,” he said.

Sometimes people do not respond to the door and in that case, they leave a card, he said.

If a violation does exist, the officer will do an initial report, which will be submitted to the supervisor for review. The supervisor and officer will discuss what action can be taken. There are various factors to consider, he said.

“As we are new to this area, we are not aware of a whole lot of history,” he said.

With someone who has four-foot grass and no money to pay, it is hard to find a contractor. So, the company can step in, he said.

“We issue a property standards order. They would not comply. We check with the CAO and then we say, ‘can we put this on the taxes?’,” he said.

It is the only way to get things done sometimes, he said.

“What are you going to do? Just let it grow and grow and grow?” he asked.

Mayor Murphy said she was very appreciative of the slide deck presented by Mr. McBain. She noted she can refer back to it if people have questions.

“There is this misunderstanding you and Darla (McBain) are just driving around the township,” she said.

“I like that you focus on voluntary compliance,” Councillor Brent Patrick said.

Mr. McBain also presented the draft versions of the property standards by-law and the yards standard.

“We are not here to be feared,” he stressed.

Mayor Murphy said if the township gets complaints about weeds on township property, they also have to respond.

“We have to remember if we put in these by-laws they are not draconian but they are serious,” the mayor said. “We have to make sure things look nice too.”

Council will look at the draft by-laws again at the next meeting in mid-April.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader