2022 was the busiest year the Sunshine Coast Regional District bylaw department has seen. Last year, bylaw officers handed out 163 tickets — a total of $73,350 in fines.
Compared to the 40 tickets (totalling $10,750 in fines) distributed in 2021, the number of tickets has more than quadrupled.
“The numbers say a lot, this has been the busiest twelve months yet for our bylaw department with a significant increase in tickets and fines issued year over year,” Matt Treit, the manager of protective services at the SCRD, said in a press release. “Despite extended outreach and communication around the importance of following zoning bylaws and water conservation regulations, some people are still not getting the message.”
Of the $73,350 in fines in 2022, a Jan. 13 press release from the regional district said the majority were issued for zoning violations including unauthorized land clearing and tree cutting to a total of $32,150. As the Sunshine Coast experienced a prolonged drought, non-compliance with water conservation regulations captured another $11,400, while $9,500 in fines was issued for building violations. Nearly $30,000 in fines was issued in just six weeks between July and August.
The previous year, zoning violations brought in 12 tickets at a cost of $2,850 while sprinkling and water regulation violations caused the issuance of nine tickets to the tune of $3,700, SCRD communications manager Aidan Buckley told Coast Reporter.
The SCRD asks residents to contact staff before beginning any developing work — ideally before digging, building or demolition — in order to avoid enforcement actions. Contractors are also reminded to ensure the property owner has proper permits in place before doing any work they are contracted to do.
The bylaw department, the press release notes, is still dealing with a high volume of ongoing complaints, many related to "nuisance" complaints such as noise. Many of these files involve other agencies, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and more.