By Cindy Filipenko
The Village of Pemberton’s six-month bylaw enforcement pilot project has been deemed a success. On Tuesday, mayor and council agreed to extend the program into next year and hire an additional officer to provide relief when the current bylaw officer, Ben Hansler, is unavailable.
“The focus of the project has been education and awareness, and we think it’s been highly successful,” said Lori Pilon, the VOP’s chief administrative officer.
Over the course of the six months, Hansler, who is contracted for eight hours a week, gave 40 warnings and issued 15 tickets. While bylaw enforcement includes matters of noise and traffic, the most noticeable effect has been in the area of animal control. Since the inception of the bylaw enforcement program, the number of licensed dogs has risen from 28 to 84. Moreover, the potential for next year seems even greater.
“At the height of the licensing program we had 400 dogs, it went down to between 12 and 20 a year when we lost our previous bylaw enforcement officer,” said Sheena Fraser, VOP deputy clerk.
Councillor Mark Blundell, who has long voiced his concerns about the impact free roaming dogs have had on the community, applauded the project’s successes.
“I’m seeing far fewer dogs wandering around without leashes or tags,” said the third-term councillor.
Still, he believes that the village can convert more people to licensing their dogs.
“Can we do a blitz on the dog tag thing in 2007? Posters, ads, that sort of thing. There are a lot of dogs here,” said Blundell, further suggesting that licensing could offset the project’s expenses.
The initial bill for the pilot project was $5,000 for the six-month period. A dollar amount for the continuation of the project has not yet been set.
The annual dog-licensing fee is $15 for neutered animals, $50 for intact dogs. Tags are available at the village office, The Twisted Whisker, WAG, the Wag ’N’ Wash and Mountain Veterinarian Clinic.
Staff pointed out that much of the pilot project’s success could be directly attributed to Hansler, who employed an educational versus punitive approach to the work.
“Ben got involved in drafting bylaws and assisted us in setting up appeal processes,” noted Fraser.
Hansler has developed a list of recommendations for council to consider. Those recommendations include the further development of One Mile Lake’s dog beach, with appropriate signage and a map, and the creation of a kennel to temporarily house dogs when existing facilities are full or closed. The Pemberton Animal Wellbeing Society (PAWS) has indicated that it is interested in working on these initiatives.
The bylaw officer also recommended the development of a community vehicle impound and changes to current village parking regulations, most notably moving the no parking in front of The Winchester to in front of the Pemberton Health Clinic.