Penticton council votes against hiring more bylaw officers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton council votes against hiring more bylaw officers

Penticton will not be increasing the city's complement of bylaw officers following a council decision this afternoon, May 4, 2021.
May 04, 2021 - 4:54 PM

Penticton city council has decided not to hire addition bylaw officers this year.

Council voted today, May 4, not to increase bylaw staffing to provide coverage from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week at an estimated additional cost of $679,500. Currently, the bylaw department, with a $737,100 budget, provides coverage from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week in the summer and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the off season.

Council agreed with the need for increased bylaw coverage but were reluctant to pay for more staff outside of budget discussions.

Director of development services Blake Laven said bylaw services responded to 417 calls in April, including such issues as abandoned property, loitering, transient camps, wellness checks, overnight camps, unlawful camping and drug overdoses.

With the advent of warmer weather there has also been an increase in graffiti and vandalism, which is typical as warmer weather returns.

One staff recommendation suggested further expansion of the City’s pay parking program, which just saw a recent increase, to fund the hiring of an additional five bylaw officers.

Councillor Katie Robinson said she was “adamantly opposed” to that option.

“We are on parking overload, and even the mere suggestion of going further is not palatable to me at this time,” Robinson said, a concern also voiced by councillor Campbell Watt.

“Ultimately, this is one of those somewhat unique situations, where I truly like the idea, but I don’t want to step so far out of our typical process to make it happen. We’re talking about a very large dollar amount,” Watt said, suggesting it fall under budgetary practises.”

Council voted 4 to 1 to receive the report for information and maintain the status quo for bylaw services coverage with a slight expansion of services if necessary. Mayor John Vassilaki was opposed.

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