The City of Meadow Lake’s position of seasonal bylaw officer, it appears, is here to stay.

During city council’s regular meeting held Monday (Oct. 23), approval was given to include a permanent seasonal bylaw enforcement officer as part of the city’s 2024 budget. The decision stems from a proposal made during the city’s annual budget meeting held Oct. 14.

“Usually summertime is the busiest season for the bylaw department with the increase in activity within the city during the summer months,” explained community safety officer Joe Hallahan in his official recommendation to council. “The focus in the summer has been nuisance abatement, site triangles, back alley maintenance and parking enforcement. In 2022, the city was able to take part in an internship with CDI college. The intern was able to assist the bylaw department maintain acceptable service levels on nuisance properties and could fill in when officers are away on vacation.”

In 2020, Hallahan said, the bylaw department was overwhelmed with nuisance abatement files at 242, and many of these files could not be cleaned up until 2021.

“In 2022, the bylaw department was able to increase the amount of work completed with the intern student by 30 per cent over 2021,” he added. “This student was not a bylaw officer and could not issue their own orders, but they could supervise the clean up work leaving our two full-time officers to continue to check properties.”

From the success of that internship, Hallahan continued, the bylaw department was approved for a seasonal position on a trial basis for 2023. This position was filled by a gentleman named Anil Kumar.

“Regardless of the negative public perception of this position due to the increase in parking enforcement directed by council, this summer position was a great success,” Hallahan noted. “We were able to have some bylaw enforcement coverage for other officers on vacation days, and they also supported our efforts allowing us to accomplish more in enforcement in areas like nuisance abatement. Unlike the intern, this person was an appointed bylaw enforcement officer and could issue their own tickets. In our trial this year, the seasonal bylaw officer position started July 5 and, after a week-and-a-half of orientation, was able to start out doing parking enforcement. During that time the officer was able to start many nuisance files on his own and has been shadowing our other officers to take over supervising cleanups of these properties. This is good value for the cost to the city to hire a seasonal officer.”

Hallahan went on to say a permanent seasonal bylaw officer position would help assist with nuisance abatement, site triangles, back alley maintenance and parking enforcement.

“The city can also consistently maintain having two officers to respond to calls during the summer months to allow for a stable level of service and allow full-time officers to take vacation,” he said.

The cost of employing a permanent seasonal bylaw officer would run the city about $16,106 annually including a $13,324 salary as well as costs associated with vehicle allowance, cell phone allowance, insurance and benefits, pension, training, uniform costs and more. In addition to Hallahan, the city also employs Tracy Chuckrey as a permanent bylaw officer.

The motion to approve including a permanent seasonal bylaw officer in the 2024 budget was made by councillor Mauri Young and seconded by councillor Marty Bishop.

“This is a good idea,” Bishop said. “He got a lot done this year, and, think about it, now he won’t have to go around marking tires, so this is a really good idea.”

by Phil Ambroziak