Bylaw Enforcement on Lasqueti Island:
By: Trustee Tim Peterson, Lasqueti Island Local Trust Committee
The Lasqueti Island Local Trust Area, like other jurisdictions, has bylaws to help capture the vision of the community and to regulate land development accordingly. The two most relevant Islands Trust bylaws are the Lasqueti Island Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 77, and the Lasqueti Island Land Use Bylaw No. 78. These bylaws may be reviewed on the Lasqueti page of the Islands Trust website, and include the dates of any revisions. Bylaw No. 77 was last amended in September 2012, and Bylaw No. 78 in January 2019.
When Bylaws 77 and 78 were created, it was with public engagement and the community provided input. If the public feels that any bylaw is no longer serving the community, it should be brought to the attention of the Local Trust Committee (LTC) for consideration of amendment. A public process would then follow, and public input would be considered, including a formal Public Hearing if a new bylaw is drafted.
The Islands Trust Council has adopted a bylaw compliance and enforcement policy to guide the work of its bylaw compliance and enforcement team. The enforcement of bylaws is primarily a complaint-driven process. If there has been a complaint, bylaw compliance and enforcement officers investigate. If a contravention of a Local Trust Committee bylaw is found to exist, the property owner will be asked to take steps to comply with the bylaw.
Depending on the specific circumstances, the bylaw compliance and enforcement officer will negotiate a reasonable plan and time for voluntary compliance. This compliance plan may accommodate unusual circumstances (such as seasonal or financial constraints or personal situation) which means a property owner is given extra time to comply. If voluntary compliance is not achieved, the bylaw compliance and enforcement officer may issue a Bylaw Violation Notice (ticket), if the LTC has adopted such a system, or recommend that an LTC approve legal action to acquire a court order to gain compliance.
It is important to note that Lasqueti does not have a Bylaw Enforcement Notification Bylaw. Many local trust areas do, some do not. Bylaw Enforcement Notification Bylaws allow for fines for violations, and are sometimes used as an intermediate step between voluntary compliance and court action. In 2012 the Lasqueti Trust Committee considered such a bylaw, but ultimately decided not to proceed.
The bylaw compliance and enforcement team investigates alleged contraventions of the land use bylaws of the LTCs comprising the Islands Trust. The LTC and local trustees are not involved in any way with specific investigations except when the bylaw compliance and enforcement officer recommends the LTC approve legal action. The decision whether to approve legal action is taken in-camera, a meeting which is not open to the public. If the LTC supports staff’s recommendation then funding for legal action is sought from the Islands Trust Executive Committee. Enforcement through the Court is a last resort to enforce the bylaws. This step is avoided until other compliance attempts have proven to be unsuccessful.