Offence Act Prosecutions
North Cowichan may enforce their bylaws by using a long form information under the Offence Act, which is a process through the provincial courts used for major bylaw contraventions.
The Offence Act provides a default if a local government has not established penalties by bylaw or if the local government has no specific enforcement scheme such as the municipal ticket information system. Offence Act prosecutions can be used even if specific enforcement schemes are in place and is the appropriate method of enforcing major bylaw contraventions.
Municipal bylaws may establish the minimum or maximum fine that North Cowichan can seek. However, if no penalty is specified, those under the Offence Act apply. Unless otherwise specifically provided in an enactment, a person who is convicted of an offence is liable to a fine up to $2,000, to imprisonment up to six months, or to both. The actual fine imposed in a specific case is determined by the provincial court judge.
Prosecutions under the Offence Act are intended for serious bylaw contraventions - the maximum possible penalty for municipal bylaw contraventions, established under the Community Charter is $50,000- and 6-months imprisonment.
Prosecution under the Offence Act begins with the Bylaw Compliance Officer swearing a long-form information in front of a provincial court justice, who then issues a summons for the person alleged to have contravened the bylaw to appear at court. There is no opportunity to simply pay a fine to end the proceeding - the justice must hear the case and make a decision in the matter.
Due to the greater seriousness of matters prosecuted under a long-form Information, the proceedings are more formal, and all parties are typically represented by lawyers.
An injunction is a court order directing a person to do, or not to do, a specified act. The Provincial Court has no jurisdiction to grant injunctions, so they must be sought in Supreme Court. As a result, a lawyer is virtually always involved when an injunction is being sought. Whether the municipality is seeking an injunction or a conviction, each element of the bylaw provision sought to be enforced must be proven.