Duncan’s Mark Anderson is seeking the province’s assistance in his ongoing fight over the city’s animal control bylaws.
Anderson is the owner of 14-year-old Emma, a shepherd-husky cross, who the city has labeled a “dangerous dog” after Anderson said she was involved in a minor scuffle with another dog several years ago.
Duncan’s animal control bylaw requires that any dog that has been labelled as dangerous have a microchip inserted for identification before a licence would be issued.
Anderson said Emma is elderly and a veterinarian advised him that inserting a microchip is typically done under general anesthetic.
But given Emma’s advanced age, Anderson said the veterinarian indicated that a general anesthetic should only be used on the dog as a last resort because it could be life threatening.
“As a result of this advice, I declined to have a microchip inserted in the dog and the City of Duncan would not issue Emma with a licence,” he said.
“As a result, I was charged $300 a month for four months, from January to April, 2017, for not having Emma licensed. After some time, the city informed me that they have stopped charging me monthly, but I still faced those four charges.”
Anderson said he wanted to contest the charges in provincial court but the City of Duncan refused, insisting instead that it be heard by Adjudication Services, a tribunal operated by the City of Nanaimo.
All four charges were dismissed as the adjudicator ruled the City of Duncan had failed to prove the basic elements of the charges, but the adjudicator only has the authority to determine if an offence had occurred and carries no legal weight in the province.
Emma remains unlicensed and labelled as “dangerous”.
But what riles Anderson is the fact that it is the City of Duncan’s position that section 263 of the Community Charter gives the municipality the right to make a new charge for a single bylaw offence each day if it wants.
“I suggest that, having laid a charge under section 39, the City of Duncan cannot treat this as a ‘case of a continuing offence’ for which it can issue a new charge each consecutive day,” he said.
“Instead, I suggest that this is a single alleged offence for which the City of Duncan can bring only one charge. The city laid an initial charge on Feb. 17, 2017. I contested the charge and, in my view, that should have been the only charge brought.”
Anderson said that if the city is correct, then he believes the province has given B.C. municipalities a legal weapon which can be abused in the hands of “unscrupulous bureaucrats” or municipal councils.
Anderson has sent a letter outlining his concerns to Selina Robinson, minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing.
Peter de Verteuil, Duncan’s CAO, said city staff have met with Anderson regarding his concerns and suggestions regarding the city’s bylaw enforcement.
He said that, as with any suggestions or feedback from the public, the city is always open to improving its bylaws, policies and procedures for clarity and for fairness in application, and welcomes meeting with residents on any matter.
De Verteuil said Anderson applied for adjudication and was successful in having the tickets overturned. “If unsuccessful at adjudication, an applicant is also able to appeal the adjudicator’s decision through a judicial review,” he said.