New Tools Help Port Coquitlam Improve Community Safety
PORT COQUITLAM, BC – Oct. 15, 2020… Port Coquitlam is increasing bylaw enforcement and clamping down on problem properties as part of the city’s ongoing focus on community safety.
City Council gave three readings to two bylaws this week that will give greater recognition to its bylaw enforcement officers and introduce new tools for dealing with nuisance and unsafe properties. The bylaws are scheduled for fourth reading and adoption on Oct. 27.
“We made community safety one of our Council priorities because it’s important our residents feel safe,” Mayor Brad West said. “We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to address issues that are within our jurisdiction as a city. These new bylaws are an important step toward making our community a safer and more livable place for families and people of all ages. Equally as important are the additional resources we are dedicating to ensure bylaw officers are meeting the needs of our community.”
The new Property Standards and Nuisance Abatement Bylaw, modeled after similar bylaws in other B.C. cities, would replace the existing Property Maintenance Bylaw and give the city stronger mechanisms for dealing with problem properties that are unsightly or disturbing to others – particularly for recurring issues. The draft bylaw:
- Details more clearly what and where items can be kept on properties,
- Regulates for general unsightliness and includes standards for yard maintenance, noxious weeds, garbage, pooled water and dilapidated vehicles, buildings and fences,
- Addresses graffiti and its removal, and
- Covers recurring nuisance noises and lighting (excluding lighting on streets, vehicles, playing fields and school grounds).
The bylaw would allow the city to issue compliance orders, issue tickets with fines of up to $500 to recover costs for administration and remediation work, and charge new abatement fees for repeat nuisance calls requiring attendance by staff and RCMP officers. An appeal process is included for compliance orders and abatement fees.
Also given three readings this week, the new Delegation of Authority Bylaw would see the city’s bylaw officers swearing an oath under the Police Act and being officially appointed as peace officers. The change is anticipated to improve both bylaw compliance and safety for officers by raising their profile, and because of the potential of charges for obstructing or assaulting a peace officer.
This is in addition to recent bylaw enforcement improvements such as:
- Providing a full complement of eight bylaw officers as of mid-October,
- Extending bylaw enforcement to 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with potential to extend later as necessary, and
- Enhancing the officers’ presence with bike patrols and marked vehicles.
“Bylaw enforcement is a tough but important job. These new measures will help support our officers in their work while giving them the discretion to continue to take a compassionate, personal approach to protecting quality of life in our city,” said Cllr. Steve Darling, Council’s delegate for safety issues. “Having a stronger presence on the street goes a long way to improving people’s feeling of safety. Ultimately this is about ensuring our residents feel safe and can fully enjoy their home, property and community.”
Once the bylaws are adopted, the wording for the new Property Standards and Nuisance Abatement Bylaw 4910 and Delegation of Authority Bylaw 3876 will be posted at www.portcoquitlam.ca/bylaws.
Other recent community safety efforts by the city have included:
- Enforcement of provincial health orders in local parks and public spaces,
- Enforcement of unsightly and problem properties,
- Ensuring homeless camps remain sanitary and do not attract wildlife, and connecting individuals with outreach and support services to help them get off the street,
- Enforcement of solid waste bylaws to ensure properties are locking up waste and removing bear attractants, including joint blitzes with provincial Conservation Officers,
- Collecting close to 500 needles from parks and public spaces to date this year,
- Joint traffic enforcement initiatives with ICBC and Tri-Cities Speed Watch, and
- Removal of graffiti in the downtown area by Community Policing volunteers.
To give more prominence to safety in the city’s work, Port Coquitlam recently renamed the former Corporate Support department to Community Safety and Corporate Support, and hired Dominic Long as the department’s Director to lead the Bylaw Services, Community Police, Communications, Corporate Office and Information Services divisions. Long came to Port Coquitlam in August from his role as Senior Manager of Community Safety for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, where he supported businesses and the community to ensure a safe and vibrant downtown.
Residents who wish to file a bylaw complaint, including non-compliance with provincial health orders, can use the reporting form linked at www.portcoquitlam.ca/bylawservices for follow-up by bylaw officers.
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Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533