Enforcement costs upset residents
by Derek Cornet
A crowd of concerned RM of Beaver River residents met near Goodsoil last week to contest the recent hiring of a bylaw enforcement officer.
“There were more than 120 people at the meeting,” RM resident Joe Rolfes said about the gathering held at James Hofer’s residence.
Rolfes said many people are upset about the RM’s financial obligations to enforcement officer Bill Ireland, who was hired earlier this year by North of Divide Community Association (NODCA). Ireland is responsible for bylaw enforcement in most of NODCA’s member municipalities and, while his time will be split between the zones, the RM of Beaver River has hired him for 50 per cent of his services.
According to a budget provided by NODCA, the RM will pay close to $62,000 for 880 hours of work. In total, it will cost more than $120,000 for NODCA to retain the officer, as the contract includes rent-free accommodations with utilities and cable, $15,708 for mileage, $12,000 for vehicle fuel and $7,040 for living-out-allowance. Ireland himself will be paid close to $70,000 a year.
“It’s expensive and it goes against what the ratepayers want,” Rolfes said. “The RM pays the RCMP for policing and we have a building inspector who enforces building bylaws. There’s just over 1,000 of us in the RM and half of the expenses come right out of our community.”
In addition to personnel expenditures, NODCA has also had to pay more than $50,000 in capital costs. More than $30,000 was spent on weigh scales and radar equipment and an additional $20,000 was budgeted for a vehicle with a police package.
The RM of Meadow Lake has agreed to pay 35 per cent of expenses, which will cost around $43,000 with the remainder to be paid evenly between Dorintosh, Loon Lake, Goodsoil and Pierceland.
“We have a petition with more than 100 names of people who are against it,” Rolfes said. “We’ve got to reel our spending in and think about it better.”
RM of Beaver River reeve Jim Peno said he stands behind the decision to fund half of the enforcement officer costs. He said the municipality was experiencing more issues than the RM of Meadow Lake, which is why it took on a larger share. He also said a ratepayers’ meeting could be held in the near future.
“We invite ratepayers and concerned citizens to come to the RM office and ask for information,” Peno said. “They’re welcome to come to our meetings.”
NODCA chairperson Perry Brookes said the association hoped the City of Meadow Lake would come on board and assume 25 per cent of the RM of Beaver River’s share. He added the municipality was adamant an officer be secured and took on the added expense in order to have someone hired quickly.
“Everyone hates change,” Brookes said. “But, everyone has to understand bylaws are put in place for everyone. If we can’t enforce them, we may as well throw them out the window.”