There are over 600 active bylaw complaint cases in the electoral areas of the Regional District of Nanaimo.
From Jan. 1 to June 15, 300 bylaw complaint cases were opened, bringing the total active cases to 614. In Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy), there were 34 complaints related to RDN-regulated bylaws including nine for animal control, eight for building regulation, five for noise and four for unsightly premises.
Electoral area directors expressed desire to receive detailed data from staff on complaints received from the public that do not fall under the purview of RDN bylaws. Parking complaints, which are referred to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the RCMP, are common, staff said at the July 8 electoral area services committee meeting. Area B Director Vanessa Craig and other directors echoed receiving emails from the public about parking.
The RDN is in the process of hiring a new bylaw enforcement officer to manage the backlog. A bylaw services review, to be brought to the committee in the fall, is expected to address staffing among other issues.
Recently, two new building officials have been hired to bump staffing levels back up to seven as the RDN faces a backlog of permits and building inspection. Recruiting and retaining candidates, has been a struggle, Chief Administrative Officer Phyllis Carlyle told the committee.
The “huge amount of travel” asked of RDN building officials has proven unattractive to many candidates who are drawn away by municipalities with smaller boundaries, Carlyle said.
“When we do get someone, they can get attracted away by $1 more per hour.”
A current RDN posting for building official, responsible for reviewing and preparing plan checks, issuing permits and building inspection, starts at $39.15 an hour and requires a minimum level one certification from both the Building Officials Association of BC and the Plumbing Officials Association of BC.
“We see staff don’t want to work overtime and they have balanced lives and it’s a different generation,” Carlyle noted. “We’ve been encouraging overtime, but they are building their own houses and are doing things after hours. We are struggling with that cultural change.”
The RDN, along with the Union of BC Municipalities, has been in talks with the province to look at regulations to see that there are adequate building officials across the province to handle the extensive building demand in various regions, Carlyle said.
This year, the province updated the Building Act requiring building officials pass at least level one of a three-level class system meant to result in consistent application of the BC Building Code. According to exam administrator Building Officials’ Association of BC, the level one exam pass rate for building officials from April to June 2021 was less than 50 per cent.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder