The Town of Huntsville is considering a different method of enforcement for some of its bylaws—one that would reportedly be more efficient and less costly—using Town resources rather than the provincial court system.
At its Dec. 15 meeting, Huntsville’s general committee heard about Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs), an alternative to traditional bylaw fines.
Rather than being processed by the court system, an AMP is both issued and processed by the municipality.
If implemented, the program would apply to violations under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act, which are primarily minor offences. The Town already uses AMPs as part of enforcement of its outdoor burning and short-term rental licensing bylaws, and is looking to expand them to its other bylaws—like noise or clean yards, for example—as appropriate.
A similar program for Part II tickets, which cover parking infractions, would be considered in the future.
Currently, to issue a Part I ticket, a bylaw officer must deliver the ticket in person. “We do have difficulties with that in tracking down the person…to hand them, physically, the ticket,” noted Andrew Stillar, the Town’s chief bylaw enforcement officer. “This way, with sufficient evidence from a complainant, we can actually fill out the administrative penalty and send it in the mail.”
Once notice of the monetary penalty has been put in the mail or delivered by courier, after five days it is considered delivered.
“The biggest advantage for the municipality is it keeps us out of the courts… everything is handled in-house,” said Stillar. That saves staff time and therefore costs the municipality less, and also would speed up the process for those who have received notice of an infraction.
Stillar stressed that sufficient evidence remains a big part of the process. “We just can’t take a phone call or someone coming to the front counter and complaining,” he said in response to a question about a burning bylaw infraction, as an example. “Either we need to go out and find that, or they need to give us some sort of evidence, and pictures are always the best way of doing that.”
An AMP notice must also be issued within 30 days of the infraction.
Those who receive an AMP notice would have the ability to request an extension of time for a review of the AMP as well as an extension of time to pay an AMP.
The right to appeal would still be part of the process, but instead of being handled by the courts, it would be the responsibility of a hearing officer. That officer would not be the person who issued the AMP notice, but rather would be an impartial third-party, likely retained on a contract basis, who would have the ability to modify, cancel, or affirm penalties. The cost of the hearing officer would be offset by the penalties issued.
If an AMP is not paid, it would be considered a debt to the municipality and could be added to the taxes for the property on which the AMP has been issued.
The Township of Lake of Bays is in the process of implementing a similar AMP program, and other municipalities across the province are currently using one successfully, including Hamilton, Kitchener/Waterloo, and Brampton.
Staff have been directed to bring back a draft Administrative Monetary Penalty Bylaw in the new year for committee’s consideration.
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