By Marcia Love
Maple Creek no longer has a bylaw enforcement officer.
The position has been cut from the 2015 municipal budget.
Mayor Barry Rudd said it was a question of which position could be eliminated that would have the least impact on the town’s operations.
“When you look at the big picture and the cost of the truck and the benefits and the wages, and we needed to cut,” he stated.
Council will now be looking at other means of addressing bylaw enforcement.
“A lot of the bylaws… when you look at them, is it worth giving a ticket for? You write a letter and the majority of people will comply,” Rudd said.
Deanna Wood has held the position of bylaw enforcement officer for the Town of Maple Creek since October 2010.
Wood feels there were other factors which contributed to the termination of the position. She said she was asked to “show favouritism” to certain individuals, giving tickets to some people and not others who committed the same infraction. She questioned this.
“Whether you’re federal, municipal or whatever it may be, you have to be unbiased,” Wood stated. “We have bylaws, we have guidelines, we have policies, we have procedures that have to be followed no matter who it is.”
The mayor said this was not the case and the decision to eliminate the position was strictly budgetary.
Rudd noted the town was without a bylaw officer for several years until 2008 or 2009 when Richard Drockner took on the role.
Without an actual bylaw officer, other town employees will be responsible for handling any animal complaints and writing letters to residents regarding issues such as tall grass.
“If somebody’s car’s parked in your driveway or somebody’s not cutting their grass or they’ve got junk in their yard, get the neighbours to come down and fill out a complaint form,” Rudd said, which he added is what people have been doing when it comes to bylaw infractions.
The bylaw officer’s services were being used by neighbouring municipalities, but those contracts were previously cancelled and the only one remaining was with the Village of Prelate.
Within the last year council had discussed the Community Safety Officer Program. The province revealed more details about the program late last year, which would offer training for community safety officers (CSOs), allowing them to deal with low-level complaints involving traffic laws and local bylaws. CSOs would tackle minor issues and allow RCMP and municipal police to focus on higher impact problems. The town had talked about having its bylaw officer receive the training to address issues such as speeding, however it was cost-prohibitive – especially because the CSO could not serve neighbouring municipalities.
Rudd emphasized the intent of having a bylaw officer is not for the town to gain from it financially.
“Your bylaw officer is never going to collect enough fines… to get the money back that it’s costing you to operate it. That’s not the point,” he said. “A bylaw officer is a cost, it’s a service.”