Building without permit tops bylaw complaints

John Gleeson/Staff Writer / Staff writer
September 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Building without a permit was the number one source of bylaw enforcement complaints during the first half of the year, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) chief building inspector and bylaw manager Peter Longhi reported last week.

A total of 82 bylaw enforcement files were opened between Jan. 1 and June 30, and the numbers are trending to exceed last year's total, Longhi said in his report to the planning and development committee on Sept. 12.

Of the total, 33 complaints were received for building without a permit and 21 for noise violations: four for construction, two for loud music, two for machine noise and 13 for roosters.

Zoning violations came next with 19 complaints: eight for setbacks, four for junk storage, one for secondary suite, two for home occupation, one for over-height fence, two for sleeping in an auxiliary building and one for sale of eggs.

Rounding out the list were five complaints for development permit violations, three for tree-cutting without a permit and one smoke violation.

"New files opened are spread evenly throughout all electoral areas - approximately 12 to 16 files opened in each - with the exception of Area F, which has fewer than normal -four complaints," the report said.

Reporting at the same meeting on the bylaw enforcement notification (BEN) pilot project in Halfmoon Bay, Longhi said 21 tickets had been issued as of Aug. 28, with 18 for dog control and three for building bylaws.

"Of the dog-related tickets, four have been set aside pending completion of a compliance agreement, five have been paid early and dog licences purchased, four have gone to collection as unpaid and five are new tickets pending payment," Longhi said, noting that none of the tickets issued had been disputed.

"Our brief experience with compliance as a result of ticket issuance based on the Halfmoon Bay pilot program has been favourable," Longhi said. "Staff see that recipients of a ticket generally admit fault and are resolving the concerns with the SCRD. It would appear that the program thus far is effective and is meeting the goals of the program as expected."

In a separate report on dog control statistics for the first half of the year, Longhi said areas B, D and E had seen significant increases in infractions, generating 39, 27 and 23 new files respectively during that six-month period.

The increase, he said, "is assumed to be a result of non-resident owners arriving on the Sunshine Coast for summer and bringing their dogs with them," as well as tourists who also bring their pets.

Meanwhile, SCRD directors continued to debate a proposed new penalty system to address the ongoing problem of construction without permits.

Currently, Longhi reported to the committee, building permit charges when violations occur are one-and-a-half times the permit value with no maximum, and only in Halfmoon Bay, BEN tickets can also be issued.

Staff were directed to report back on penalty options, develop objective criteria for enforcement, and increase the current charge to twice the permit value with no maximum.

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