Council votes against hiring company to provide bylaw enforcement, animal control

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GORE BAY—Gore Bay council debated the possible hiring of a company (for a year) that would have provided bylaw enforcement and animal control services at a meeting this past Monday. The costs involved in having these services provided lead to the eventual vote that was taken by council members.

Councillor Jack Clark explained, “we (general government committee) had a presentation from the representatives of Rainbow District Animal Service and Bylaw Enforcement. They seem to have a pretty good system in place.”

“One of the attractive things about having this company provide these services to the town is that they are an outside company who don’t know the local residents and won’t feel guilty about enforcing and charging people,” said Councillor Clark. The company would provide services a part a day each week to enforce bylaws and provide dog control; and those hours would be switched up so local residents will not be able to gauge when inspectors will be around, he said. As well, “they will take on the Residential Tenancy (Landlord-Tenant) Act services for the town, when complaints arise from tenants.”

The costs being proposed by the company to provide the services are based on a system involving the number of people in town-per person, so the cost would be roughly $14,000 that we would have to pay (yearly), said Councillor Clark. The services would be provided on a year-round basis on a one year contract.
“While we had previously been able to curtail bylaws not being followed, for instance people parking in no parking areas and keeping their yards clean, this has slipped in the past two years that we haven’t had a bylaw enforcement officer,” said Councillor Clark. “We believe this program will have value and go a significant way to track enforcement and get people back on track in following the rules and bylaws.”

“First of all, I know this is not in our budget this year,” stated Councillor Dan Osborne. “And it is not in our best interest to spend  this type of money when there isn’t a huge problem in town. There is illegal parking going on but if we put a four way stop sign and lines down for a four way stop at the Canada Post corner this could be alleviated.”

“As far as local residents cleaning their yards and property standard bylaws this is a tough bylaw to enforce,” said Councillor Osborne. “For example, even in Sudbury where they have full-time bylaw enforcement officers when they leave the town office every day they pass old shacks to the right of their building.”

“I don’t see us getting much value from hiring this company to provide these services, for one day a week,” stated Councillor Osborne. “I think we would be spending a lot of money and not getting much in return.”

“We have townships around us that have bylaw officers three days a week and still people don’t keep their yards clean,” said Councillor Osborne. “When you look at a cost of $14,000, I don’t think we should be spending this. “

Councillor Ken Blodgett asked if Rainbow would be spending eight hours per day working when they are in Gore Bay.

Councillor Clark said they would spend part of a day every week and that they would carry out similar work in other communities. “They would probably be in town for about four hours a week,” he said.

“Does the cost quoted include transportation for them coming to Gore Bay?” asked Councillor Blodgett.

It would also include prosecution of those people not following the bylaws, said Mayor Ron Lane. “They would take over administration of all of this.”

“Is there lots of complaints from local residents now? If so, I don’t see it,” said Councillor Blodgett.

With the property standard bylaw enforcement and animal control we had seen good progress when we had a bylaw enforcement officer but now this has slipped since we don’t have a person carrying out this work. And our town staff don’t have the manpower, time or experience to do this.”

“This cost is not in our budget this year,” said Councillor Blodgett. “If there were serious problems maybe we could look at it, but I don’t see this as being the case.”

Council was told that the provincial Residential Tenancy Act was a mandatory requirement for all Ontario municipalities effective July 1, 2018, so the town of Gore Bay is already in violation of this.

“We passed enforcement bylaws two years ago, but they haven’t been enforced,” said Mayor Lane.

“Can we not deal with this in house and for example have our (town public works staff) clean those properties that need to be, and then we (town) bill the property owner?” asked Councillor Osborne.

This same service would be provided by Rainbow District, said Councillor Clark. “We don’t have the time or people to be able to do this.”

“$14,000 is a lot of money, and it is not in the budget,” said Councillor Osborne. “We have made some cuts of other silly things in our budget and we had $9,000 in our budget for a bylaw enforcement officer and we took it out.”

“I think this is heavy handed in terms of costs,” stated Councillor Blodgett. “There must be another way we can provide these services.”

Mayor Lane noted there are three things council must address, someone to carry out inspections if complaints are made by tenants on housing or property conditions, in apartments for example, which the town has to do. And he said some people are parking in handicapped and no-parking areas in town. “We need to charge those violating these rules,” said Mayor Lane. He pointed out these property standard inspections had fallen to town clerk Annette Clarke to carry out, but “she doesn’t have the time to carry out this work. I think it is worth $14,000 to have all this work carried out.”

Councillor Kevin Woestenenk said he agreed with the concerns raised that the town would be paying the company basically $40 per hour for these services.

It was noted by Councillor Larry Eirikson that if stray dogs and cats are caught by Rainbow District the company has the facilities to house these stray animals and adopt them out if they are not picked up by their owners. The town does not have these types of facilities.

Councillor Osborne said that he has searched the internet for statistics across the province and found the number very, very low as to how many people raise concerns under the Residential Tenancy Act.

“It may not be a huge problem but we still need someone to provide these investigations when complaints come forward,” said Ms. Clarke.

“There have been other things councillors have wanted us to do, that weren’t in the budget and were turned down,” said Councillor Blodgett. “This has been the way we have done this all along––that if it isn’t in the budget we wouldn’t do it. Why is this so important now?”

A motion had been recommended to council from its general government committee that council hire Rainbow District Animal Service and ByLaw Enforcement under a one year contract for a cost of $14,000 per year.”

“I will vote in favour of it, if we are not in compliance and a problem arises. We have to follow the rules,” said Councillor Woestenenk.

Councillor Jack Clark was also in favour of the motion. However, Councillors Dan Osborne, Ken Blodgett and Larry Eirikson voted in opposition.

Mayor Lane added, “I would have voted for it, but it would have only created a tie (which means the motion would have been defeated.”