As the city automates parking and continues to grapple with social issues, its bylaws department has transitioned in the past year.
The department has a new manager and officers have undergone training to take on more issues in a universal way.
“It’s a fairly significant transition with what we do and how we do it,” City of Kamloops community and protective services director Byron McCorkell told KTW.
Tammy Blundell has taken on the role of bylaw services manager, following the departure of John Ramsay, who left for a role in the private sector. In addition, the city previously had two tiers of bylaw officers. Now, they are all trained to the higher standard.
“What was a bylaw level-one officer, we’ve gone to all level-twos, which means all of our bylaw officers are capable of performing all of the functions of a bylaw officer for ticketing, whether it’s parking or transients or unsightly property or business license, whatever,” McCorkell said. “They’re all level-two bylaw officers.”
Bylaw-one officers were entry-level positions — essentially the city’s parking police. However, as the city works toward automating parking with improved technology, the city has elected to train its officers to handle more, such as problems along the riverbanks.
The issues are ones increasingly faced by bylaws; however, a bylaw-one officer previously would not have been able to attend such situations. Bylaw-two officers are security-cleared and capable of working with RCMP on joint patrols. McCorkell said training occurred in the past year.
Bylaw-two officers are paid more than level-one officers, though it is unclear how much more the higher-qualified officers are costing the city. McCorkell said the city consolidated its budget.
“We are able to now offer the service in a different way and basically have a core staff available, basically four officers who are around at all times and we’ll just move them around, whether they’re doing parking or doing street patrol or river bank,” McCorkell said.
“We’ll determine during the day how we’re going to do it. We have automated all our parking, that’s the reason for the parkades conversation. We can man those with an electronic arm and go through with our automated vehicles and see if there’s violations. We are much more able to address issues in parking using technology. We then free up those staff to deal with the issues confronting us now.”
As the city grapples with social issues, it is also working toward having complaints flow through the bylaws department, with officers able to assess situations and co-ordinate which parties need to be involved. One of the difficulties in tackling social issues is that they are not criminal in nature, sometimes requiring a social agency or health services.
“If it’s one of these ones where it’s in the grey zone, where people just don’t know what to do — they have a situation they’d like to report — a bylaw officer would be able to respond,” McCorkell said.
He added the city is also addressing nuisance properties in a more concerted way, with bylaw officers regularly attending homes that draw the ire of neighbours, such as boarded-up houses.
“We are dealing with neighbourhood properties in a much more timely fashion,” he said.