Local government bylaw enforcement generally refers to a host of
actions directed at obtaining compliance with local government
bylaws. This may include activities such as educating the public
about regulatory rules, conducting inspections to ensure that the
rules are being followed, mediating between members of the public,
leveraging voluntary compliance with the rules where possible, and
seeking consequences for contraventions where compliance is not
forthcoming or harm has been done to the community.
Most local government bylaw enforcement authority is found in the
Community Charter, which provides the core municipal powers.
Certain provisions of the Community Charter, particularly relating to
municipal ticketing, also apply to
regional districts and local trust committees. Other
bylaw enforcement authorities for regional districts are found in the
Government Act, and for local trust committees in the
Trust Act. The City of Vancouver bylaw enforcement powers are found in the
When establishing bylaw enforcement regimes local governments must make policy choices
about when to take enforcement action. Most bylaw investigations are initiated as a
result of a complaint, although some bylaws are subject to ongoing
inspections for compliance. Local government inspections may include
entering onto property, at reasonable times and in a reasonable
manner, to determine whether local government regulations,
prohibitions and requirements are being met. Local governments may
also apply to the Provincial Court for an entry warrant if
reasonable requests are refused.
If there is a contravention, local governments may encourage the
person responsible to voluntarily rectify the situation. In relation
to certain hazardous situations or declared nuisances, a municipal
council may order a person to rectify the situation, or take action
to eliminate the hazard or damage and require the person to pay the
costs incurred to do so. Where compliance with a bylaw is a
condition of a licence or permit, a local government may suspend
the licence or permit until the person, or persons, comply.
Ultimately, when efforts at obtaining compliance have failed, a
local government must decide whether the contravention of its bylaws
requires enforcement of the bylaw.
A local government may apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction
or court order, to enforce, or prevent or restrain the
contravention of a local government bylaw or resolution.
The contravention of a local government regulation, requirement or
prohibition is an offence under the primary legislation for that
form of local government. As such, a local government may also seek
a summary conviction for the contravention of a bylaw in Provincial
Court. Prosecutions in Provincial Court are generally initiated by
the swearing of an Information, a document that tells the
Court what the allegation is. For local governments, however, there
are two ways to proceed, by Municipal Ticket Information
under the Community Charter, or by “long-form” Information under the
The key differences between these documents lie in the formality of
the process that they begin and the degree of penalty to which they
may ultimately lead. A Municipal Ticket Information,
known as an MTI or municipal ticket, is the simpler of
the two. A municipal ticket is completed by a police or bylaw
enforcement officer, and may be immediately personally served on the
alleged offender. An MTI may be resolved without court appearance
through payment of a fine and admission of guilt, or may be disputed
in court. A paid MTI is typically not drawn up as a conviction.
A “long-form” Information must be sworn in
front of a Provincial Court justice, who then issues a Summons which
must be personally served on the alleged offender and requires that
person’s appearance at court. Due to the greater consequences of a
proceeding initiated by “long-form” Information, which may include
imprisonment, there is a greater degree of formality to the
proceedings, and local governments and the alleged offender are
typically represented by lawyers. Certain matters, such as an
offence related to the discharge of a firearm, may only be initiated
by long-form Information; such matters are sufficiently serious that
it is in the public interest for the alleged offender to be heard by
or admit guilt in front of the court.
As an alternative to seeking summary convictions for very simple
matters, like parking violations, local governments may implement an
administrative penalty system known as “bylaw notice enforcement”
Local Government Bylaw Notice Enforcement Act. Using this system requires a
local government to establish an dispute process that is much less formal than a courts,
presided over by a third-party adjudicator.
A bylaw notice may be written by a bylaw enforcement officer and delivered in a variety of reasonable means, including in person or by being left on a vehicle. The
penalties under this system are strictly monetary, the burden of
proof substantially less, and the discretion of the adjudicator to
adjust the penalty amount is nil. Bylaw notice enforcement is
available to local governments by regulation.
Most bylaws require enforcement by individuals with specialized
training, knowledge or experience, and the elements of bylaw
enforcement are carried out primarily by employees and officers of a
local government who are appointed by name or job classification as
bylaw enforcement officers. The
and Bylaw Officers' Association of British Columbia
is the professional association of bylaw enforcement officers in the Province.
The Local Government Department develops policy on bylaw enforcement
and makes recommendations for legislative change. It works with the
Ministry of Attorney General
to build partnerships with key stakeholders and collaborates to develop educational and