Last year was a busy one for Gibsons’ bylaw enforcement officer – the busiest since her role began more than a decade ago.
In 2020 the bylaw department dealt with 559 calls for service, compared with an average of 260. Those numbers don’t take into account queries from the public that don’t require further investigation.
Playing into the increase was the COVID-19 pandemic, with 49 calls related to concerns people were breaking provincial health orders. “The Bylaw Officer worked with several government agencies as well as Vancouver Coastal Health, to address these calls,” according to a quarterly report summary of bylaw enforcement activities.
Another less direct impact of the pandemic was the increase in complaints about dogs. Four serious dog attacks were reported, with three resulting in the dogs declared dangerous, said the report. Staff said three people had been bitten by dogs.
If declared dangerous, dogs must be confined to an enclosure with warning signs on the owner’s property, according to the town’s dog licencing bylaw. Dogs must be muzzled and leashed at all times when not on the owner’s property.
The seawall has become particularly busy with dog walkers, noted Coun. Stafford Lumley at the Feb. 16 committee of the whole meeting where the issue was discussed, and Coun. Annemarie De Andrade said she received several complaints about dogs, usually concentrated at the seawall.
It’s also prompted bylaw staff to work with the town to install signage around town notifying people about rules, including at the seawall where daily foot patrols occur to remind owners to keep their dogs leashed. Several warnings have been issued to noncompliant owners.
Last year saw a decrease in the number of dog licences issued to 309 from 351 in 2019.
Wildlife attractants were another source of the increase, with 24 complaints filed about bears getting into garbage. Businesses and property owners were fined for repeated infractions, “which proved successful in gaining compliance,” said the report.