NORTH BATTLEFORD - The City of North Battleford is considering sending the bill to property owners at locations seeing repeated calls for service by protective services.
At planning committee on Monday, council got their first look at a proposed protective services cost recovery bylaw, in advance of it being brought back to a full council meeting for consideration.
Right now the city’s own protective services such as fire prevention, suppression and emergency response services are covered by the property tax and paid for by property owners.
The motivation behind the bylaw is to address those properties in the city that see repeated calls for service from the Fire Department, RCMP and community safety officers (CSOs) for criminal activity, mischief, excessive noise, parties and so on.
The city's Director of Protective Services Lindsay Holm had pointed out an example of one single property in particular that saw 27 RCMP responses, 11 CSO responses and one fire event this year alone.
“To me that is a lot of resources being applied to one residence,” said Holm.
This bylaw would enable the city to charge the cost of excessive calls for service back to a single property owner, as opposed to distributing the cost to all North Battleford residents who pay property tax.
The charges to those property owners would be based on the costs for protective services already set out in other bylaws. The bylaw also would see provisions to enforce the outstanding balances in court, or add them to property taxes.
At Planning Committee Monday, there was extensive discussion of how the bylaw would work. It was explained there are plans to warn particular properties approaching the point of excessive calls for service.
There was also discussion about what would happen in situations where there were calls regarding domestic abuse or child welfare situations. Councillor Kelli Hawtin pointed to the need to exempt those situations “where we would never ever ever want to deter somebody from calling protective services.”
“I think we need to be clear that we are not out here to tell a victim of domestic abuse not to phone the police, we have to be clear on that or other cases.”
In general, council was very supportive of what was being brought forward.
Mayor David Gillan described the bylaw as “very innovative,” and “something that council is very interested in, which is how we’re going to better manage properties in the city that are using a lot of service from the city, and hence creating a bit of consternation in the neighbourhoods.”
“I think this is a really good start at drafting a really new approach to dealing with issues that we continue to face,” said Councillor Kent Lindgren. Councillor Bill Ironstand, meanwhile, expressed his view he wanted to see the bylaw come in as quickly as possible.
The bylaw will now come back to council to be introduced, with administration making some adjustments to the wording in the meantime. The indication is it most likely will come to council at their Oct. 10 meeting.
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