The Complaint Process
The following is a brief description of the process followed when the Town receives and acts upon your complaint. For the most part the Municipal Enforcement Officer will be successful in obtaining voluntary compliance without resorting to legal proceedings. Sometimes a simple reminder is all that is needed to remedy the situation. The length of time involved in the verification, investigation, and abatement process can vary greatly before “Abatement” occurs (removal/correction of the violation). Problems relating to violations (under certain sections of specific Bylaws) such as untidy yards, trash and debris in your neighbourhood, inoperable/abandoned vehicles, tall vegetation, obstructed sidewalks, obscured traffic signs, snow removal, etc are all investigated and processed in a similar way:
- If a violation exists, research begins into identifying the actual ownership of the property. The Municipal Enforcement Officer, if possible, may speak with the owner in person or by telephone and make a verbal request for Abatement. If this method of contact is inconvenient or not possible he/she may issue a letter advising the respondent of the complaint and request for voluntary compliance. This is generally enough to get compliance immediately or within a reasonable time period.
- If Abatement is still not achieved, then a Directive or Order to Remedy under sections 545 or 546 of the MGA (Municipal Government Act) may be issued to the property owner and/or occupant giving that person a specific number of days to remedy the situation as required by the Municipal Government Act. (Compliance Deadline.) Under section 547 (1) a person receiving a written order or directive may appeal that order or directive to Council within a specified period of time. (Can be up to 14 days.) If an appeal is heard and the original order or directive is upheld the appellant may wish to appeal to Court of Queen’s Bench.
- At the end of the appeal time period, the Municipal Enforcement Officer will recheck the property. If no appeal has been made and the Owner, tenant or agent has not complied with the Direction or Order by the specified deadline the Town may take whatever actions or measures are necessary to:
- Deal with the unsightly condition in accordance with section 550 of the Act and
- Collect any unpaid costs or expenses incurred by the Town in accordance with the Act.
- In addition, a person who fails to comply with and Directive or Order within the specified time period may be guilty of an offence under the specific Bylaw. If the Municipal Enforcement Officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that an offence has been committed a summons under the Provincial Offences Procedures Act S.A. 1988 may be issued by means of a violation ticket in respect of an alleged contravention and any specified penalties will be payable upon conviction in a Court of competent jurisdiction.
- The cost of work done is charged in addition to any fine imposed under the related Bylaw.
This entire process could take as much as four to six weeks to complete and although it may look like nothing is being done or no action is taking place a lot is happening behind the scenes. If you wish you could contact the Town Office to check on the status of your complaint if you feel time has passed and you have not seen any results on the property you are concerned with. Communication and follow up are key components to having a satisfactory resolution to any violation.