Lake Country mayor says municipal fines are not high enough to make businesses comply

Recent commercial infractures shed light on the municipality’s bylaw insufficiencies

Lake Country Mayor James Baker says the district’s fines are not enough to make commercial businesses comply with the municipality’s by-laws.

The fines, depending on the infraction, range $100 to $10,000, according to the city. But Baker said most are at the lower end.

“Our fines are not high enough for people to come into compliance (with the laws),” said Baker. “The sanctions are minimal.”

Because of that, Baker said many businesses can get away with breaking the law because they can pay the fine rather than comply with the rules. Occasionally, the financial gain to break the law outweighs the cost of a bylaw infraction.

A course of action for fining businesses found to be in contravention of the rules is a “long, drawn-out process” according to the mayor, and that hinders council’s ability to further apprehend repeat offenders to a point of consequence.

Changing the base value of fines to a higher value, Baker said, wouldn’t be fair to non-repeat offenders who broke a bylaw and later came to terms with the regulations. A possible option could be progressive fines.

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At last week’s meeting, council discussed the fate of a local landscaping business that, since 2015, had not complied with agricultural bylaws.

According to the city, the company has disregarded the district’s regulations on farmland use for a number of years, with the infractions brought before council numerous times.

On Tuesday, July 2, council granted the business another opportunity to reconcile its breach by submitting a proper farming plan that adheres to the B.C. Agricultural Reserve Act in three months time.

Until then, the business will be allowed to operate at full capacity as it has been since its first complaint.

“We don’t have that much authority (to stop it),” said Baker.

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