Tofino’s council was pleased to see its seasonal bylaw enforcement team had handed out some actual fines for infractions other than illegal parking this summer.
Tofino’s seasonal bylaw enforcement program runs from May 12 to September 12 in an effort to keep summer’s busy population under control.
The bylaw team took some heat in August when council reviewed the program’s mid-way numbers and expressed concern over the lack of fines given out.
August’s interim report outlined that out of 140 camping infractions discovered, 53 verbal warnings and 77 written warnings were issued but no fines.
Alcohol infractions were also seen as a disappointingly lowticketed group in August as 590 contraventions were discovered leading to 582 verbal warnings and eight written warnings but no fines.
During last week’s regular meeting, council reviewed the program’s final numbers, which showed at least a few fines were received.
The program’s final report for 2014 showed 698 camping infractions were discovered, 381 verbal warnings, 65 written warnings and five actual fines given out.
Alcohol contraventions totaled 2,550 with 2,494 verbal warnings, five warning tickets and five fines given out.
“There was a lot of activity this year on the beaches,” said Jane Armstrong, Tofino’s manager of corporate services who oversees the program.
Illegal parking remained a heavily ticketed offence in Tofino as the interim report showed 118 fines issued out of 474 parking infractions discovered and the final report showed 934 total contraventions and 392 fines.
Coun. Cathy Thicke asked what conclusions Armstrong had drawn from the report and said that she was “particularly interested in the concept of verbal warning versus tickets and the compliance factor.”
Armstrong said compliance is the bylaw team’s primary goal.
“Bylaw enforcement is defined as all the actions one takes to get compliance, so it always includes education, verbal warnings written warnings (and) warning tickets… if you can get compliance through education that’s the route you want to go with people,” she said.
“Staff reported back to me in the areas of camping infractions they were effective in getting compliance (and) that they did not have a lot of repeat offenders.”
Armstrong touted the program as effective but cited several concerns.
“I think there’s costs to having programs over such a time period…we’re challenged to get people to come here for a four month period,” she said.
“It’s hard to recruit people, it’s hard to get them trained; you just get them to the point where they’re getting effective after four months and then the program closes.”
She added the program could be putting unrealistic expectations in the minds of locals during winter months.
“I think it has sets up an expectation in the community too of our capacity to deliver services year round which is challenging to us,” she said.
Thicke asked about the interaction between the district’s bylaw team and the Tofino RCMP.
Armstrong responded that she and the detachment’s former commander Sgt. James Anderson had gone over the community’s priorities but noted the detachment’s staff has recently seen significant turnover and new faces are still being brought up to speed.
Coun. Duncan McMaster asked if any progress had been made towards implementing a neighborhood watch program in Tofino.
Armstrong said Sgt. Anderson had supported the idea but the RCMP’s new arrivals were just getting introduced to the idea.
Mayor Josie Osborne suggested the district organize a joint town hall meeting with the RCMP to discuss the community’s policing priorities.
“The RCMP also has their own separate town hall meeting every year and, quite frankly, it’s extremely poorly attended; there’s a handful of people that show up,” she said.
“Over the summer I certainly got a lot of feedback on the street from people about the bylaw enforcement program.”
She said a joint meeting would create “more opportunity for the public to give us their feedback and have a dialogue with people about how people are feeling about the program and what the priorities are so that we can make some good informed decisions.
“It’s a good program in my opinion and it’s always great to get feedback to tune it.”