Maple Ridge approve bylaw adjudication

Maple Ridge is catching up to the rest of the Lower Mainland and switching to a process that allows local dispute of bylaw tickets instead of going through the time, trouble and expense of court room disputes.

Thanks to changes made in 2003, municipalities can have the Attorney General department provide adjudicators who can settle disputes over tickets given for barking dogs, noise or parking violations, business licence issues and building code disputes.

Currently, Maple Ridge residents who want to challenge those tickets have to go to provincial court, which in turn requires the district’s bylaw officers to attend, costing time and money.

That produces an expensive backlog, said bylaws director Liz Holitzky. Currently, up to 30 per cent of the 2,500 tickets issued by the district are challenged in court.

Under the bylaw dispute adjudication system, people don’t have to go to court, but make their case before a local adjudicator, who then  decides on the fine. Under such a system, bylaw officers are also able to review disputed tickets and come up with agreements to ensure compliance.

Holitzky says in a report that a pilot project tried in 2004 in North and West Vancouver reduced the number of disputed parking tickets by 94 per cent.

Meanwhile, there was an 81-per-cent increase in the collection of outstanding fines.

The bylaw dispute adjudication system also reduced overall costs to the municipalities.

Langley, Richmond, Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Burnaby, Vancouver Surrey and Pitt Meadows have adopted the bylaw dispute adjudication system.

Council approved starting the process here.

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