The Village is asking that residents report incidents regarding dogs-at-large and other dog concerns to the Village office. That is the only way they can track the issues, and see if a bylaw officer is warranted, says Anne Yanciw, Valemount’s Chief Administrative Officer.

However a bylaw officer is not the only way to enforce bylaws.

The Village has been going through the process of implementing an adjudication system for bylaw enforcement, and Yanciw, says it may have left some people, including the RCMP, confused about whether the Village can enforce bylaws. In a letter to a Councillor read at last week’s meeting, a resident who called the RCMP after her dog was attacked by another dog said she was told that they couldn’t do anything beyond speaking to the owner, because there was no bylaw in place.

In fact, Valemount’s Animal Control Bylaw was recently updated with amendments so that it can be enforced under the provincial adjudication system. It passed fourth reading on Oct. 8, but before that, the previous bylaw was still in effect.

A report on bylaw enforcement specifically related to dogs was presented to Council on Oct. 22. The report states that since August 2012, after an unsuccessful seven month search for a bylaw officer, and because of the low complaint volumes to both the Village and the RCMP, Council resolved to trial a strategy of enforcement without a bylaw officer. For dog issues, this strategy included assistance from Public Works during their working hours, and from the RCMP for dangerous dogs.

According to the report, so far in 2013, the Village received 22 dog complaints, and two dogs-at-large were captured by Public Works staff. Considering the fact that loose dogs don’t usually stick around in one spot, Yanciw noted during Council meeting “that is a phenomenal success rate.”

Many bylaws in Valemount, as in other municipalities are complaint driven. That means the Village relies on the public to report infractions. Yanciw said in the Council meeting that to define the resources Village staff recommends to council, they look at the numbers. She says if residents have a dog concern, they need to report it to the Village office.

“Sometimes perception is very different from reality,” said Yanciw. “If we don’t have sufficient call volumes to support a bylaw officer, then it is going to be difficult to recommend that to council.”

Councillor Salt also noted that incidents may occur outside of Village office hours, but residents can call and leave a message on the answering machine.

“I’d suggest if it happens, no matter when, call the office right away,” said Salt.

Yanciw notes that the RCMP have been really good partners, and they will be included in the upcoming training on how the new adjudication process works. She says the training process will go through the entire adjudication system, from writing tickets, to the paperwork involved at the office, to the provincial adjudication process.

So far, only a few bylaws fall under the adjudication process, inclucing the Animal, Good Neighbour, and Solid Waste bylaws, but the Village plans to add more bylaw reviews continue.

By: Korie Marshall