Resolutions

Adding Fines Related to Bylaw Enforcement to the Tax Roll

Year: 2017

Resolution

Whereas Section 369 of The Municipalities Act allows municipalities to add specific unpaid charges to tax rolls and Section 370 of The Municipalities Act allows municipalities to apply to the courts for an injunction or other order for specific bylaw contraventions; and

Whereas small urban municipalities are beginning to hire outside companies to perform bylaw enforcement services instead of doing the enforcement themselves; and

Whereas small urban municipalities do not have the same monetary and administrative resources as larger urban municipalities to effectively collect fines issued for bylaw infractions, which includes spending general municipal funds for legal fees and making applications to the court, as outlined in Section 370 of The Municipalities Act; and

Whereas the dollar amount of certain fines for bylaw infractions would be used up to pay for legal fees, which would defeat the purpose of fine issuance; and

Whereas ratepayers who commit bylaw infractions need more motivation to take corrective action; and

Whereas there are an increasingly large number of rental homes within smaller municipalities, and some tenants cause bylaw infractions without any consequence or motivation for landlords to ensure that their tenants are abiding by municipal bylaws;

Therefore be it resolved that the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association encourage the provincial government to amend Section 369 of The Municipalities Act to allow municipalities to add the cost of unpaid fines related to bylaw enforcement to the tax roll, and to add unpaid fines of a tenant to the tax roll of the owner, given proper notice.

Background:

Smaller urban communities have been hiring bylaw enforcement officers more frequently in an attempt to clear up issues that tend to plague small towns, such as junked vehicles, parking infractions, untidy yards, etc. The Municipalities Act allows for municipalities to issue Orders to Remedy for properties, and further, allows for associated costs related to the remediation of properties to be added to the tax roll. However, other bylaw infractions, such as parking violations, nuisance animals, noise violations, and many other infractions are issued fines. Unfortunately, fines tend to go unpaid, and without the municipality spending the administrative time and money to retrieve the money from the ratepayer by legal means, the fine will most likely remain unpaid. Larger urban centres have many more resources at their disposal to effectively enforce their bylaws, and more capacity to make use the court system to receive fine payment and bylaw compliance.

Provincial Response

  • This resolution has the potential of becoming a contentious issue within the province. Careful consideration would need to be given as to which bylaw infractions could be tied directly to the property, and therefore be the responsibility of the landlord or property owner.
  • At present, municipalities are granted a wide variety of powers and broad autonomy regarding bylaw enforcement and remedying bylaw contraventions under The Municipalities Act. These powers must be balanced with the rights of individuals and property owners.
  • Within the past year, Government Relations has received complaints from landlords regarding the addition of unpaid utility charges to property taxes. Adding another set of fines to the tax roll would further exacerbate these concerns.
  • Additionally, adding bylaw infraction fines to the tax roll bypasses the current bylaw enforcement requirement of an order to remedy, and the individual's right to appeal said order or apply to the court for legal remedies. 
  • Government Relations will review the issue of adding bylaw infractions to the tax roll for consideration the next time the municipal Acts are opened for amendment. 
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