Compliance & Enforcement
Through education and enforcement, Bylaw Services works with residents, businesses and visitors to achieve bylaw compliance and foster a safe, healthy and respectful community. The goal is not to penalize citizens but to achieve voluntary compliance, through increased public education and awareness we are able to protect the rights of residents while preserving the quality of life in North Cowichan.
Bylaw Compliance Officers investigate and respond to complaints received from citizens about bylaw violations in North Cowichan. While there are certain areas of enforcement that are safety related and require proactive enforcement, the majority of the bylaws are enforced on a complaint only basis.
Bylaw Compliance Officers will work with those willing to correct infractions however officers have a range of tools to ensure compliance ranging from issuing tickets to obtaining court orders and injunctions. Their mandate is to identify, investigate, mediate and resolve bylaw violations and provide enforcement services to all communities within North Cowichan.
Bylaw Compliance and Enforcement Policy
The Bylaw Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides additional information about how Bylaw Services responds to complaints and seeks to obtain compliance. The policy provides general guidance for staff when dealing with bylaw-related complaints within North Cowichan in an effort to treat all property owners (both complainants and alleged offenders) fairly and equitably.
Where voluntary compliance cannot be achieved, Bylaw Compliance Officers have a few tools available to them to help reach practical resolutions for often intractable problems. In those situations, officers will determine which of the following enforcement tools is the most appropriate one they should use:
Reporting a Violation
Once you are ready to submit a complaint regarding an alleged violation of a North Cowichan bylaw, please fill out the report a violation form. Incomplete forms and anonymous complaints will not be considered.
Completed forms can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed or dropped off in person to the North Cowichan Municipal Hall at 7030 Trans-Canada Highway, Duncan, British Columbia V9L 6A1.
Once a complaint has been accepted, a Bylaw Compliance Officer will conduct an investigation which will determine the appropriate course of action to be taken. Resolution of complaints may include a warning, a monetary fine, remedial action or a legal action such as a Supreme Court injunction.
Often complaints are resolved amicably between neighbours. As a result, and if possible, it is recommended that residents attempt to resolve their issues before contacting Bylaw Services for assistance. However, if the matter were to go to court or result in adjudication, we would contact you and ask if you are prepared to give evidence. Should you decide that you did not want your information disclosed, you will remain completely anonymous, but in so doing, you withdraw your complaint.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will I have to give my name, address and phone number when I make a complaint?
Yes. Bylaw Services cannot investigate anonymous complaints. Your contact information is required to enable you to follow-up with staff about the investigation and to contact you to obtain more information, if necessary. Click here to report a violation.
2. Will my complaint be kept confidential?
Yes. Your personal information is protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, unless you are required to act as a witness.
3. What is the process after I make a complaint?
You will receive an acknowledgment of your complaint, usually within 5 business days. Bylaw Services staff may need to contact you for further information. You may be asked to log activities in support of the investigation.
4. I received a Bylaw Offence Notice; how can I dispute it?
For information on the Bylaw Offence Notice, visit Disputing a Bylaw Offence Notice.
5. I received a Municipal Ticket; how can I dispute it?
For information on the Municipal Ticket Information System, visit Disputing a Municipal Ticket.
6. Will I have to go to court if I make a complaint?
If it becomes necessary to prosecute someone for a bylaw violation or for the District of North Cowichan to take civil proceedings, then it may be necessary for you to present evidence in provincial court.
7. Where can I find bylaw information?
North Cowichan has many regulatory bylaws. The most commonly applied can be viewed on the Bylaws page. Staff can assist you with that the interpretation of municipal bylaws as they relate to particular situations.