BY RATTAN MALL
THE City of Surrey is cracking down on illegal dumping and by the end of this month their reporting line (604-591-4370) will be answered 24 hours, Jas Rehal, Surrey’s Manager, By-law and Licensing Services, told The VOICE on Tuesday.
“We are going seven days a week now – more aggressive, much more efficient group,” he added, referring to a press release that the City had sent out a day after this newspaper had called Rehal about the problem.
It read: “To meet the needs of the community, the City of Surrey has implemented a new staffing model that will have by-law officers fully deployed throughout the week, including Saturdays and Sundays. The balanced coverage will allow for up to 14 by-law officers to quickly respond to issues such as construction without permits, dumping of refuse and secondary suite inspections on weekends.”
Asked if the dumping problem was getting worse, Rehal said: “I would say there’s a problem and sometimes there are peaks. So definitely we tell everyone to phone in when it happens and we can get on it right away. The fine associated with illegal dumping is $500.”
Asked how the City deals with those who offend multiple times, Rehal said: “If it’s multiple times we will take him to court, and see what we get to do through the courts.”
When I asked him how the City catches people who dump furniture and other things at night, he said it was very difficult. However, he noted: “We look at what’s being dumped. Sometimes there is evidence in them. We go through the stuff.”
The City also puts up cameras at places where there’s a really big problem and use other tactics, too, to catch the offenders.
Rehal said: “I wouldn’t say that in the City right now we are seeing a massive increase. … Around the end of the month, when rental properties are vacated, there’s sometimes a bit of increase then and we know that. So we try to keep on top of that.”
He added that the City was trying to be aggressive as possible regarding illegal dumping.
He advised residents to phone 604-591-4370 and let the City know when they come across illegal dumping.
He said the City takes it very seriously and takes immediate action. But he also advised residents to secure their own properties, noting that some properties were open and thus more accessible.
He added: “So we ask everyone to secure their property to (prevent) the illegal dumping, but if there’s a definite dumping issue, phone us and we’ll get right on it.”
IN a press release, the City said: “Upon investigation by by-law officers, the voluntary compliance in the City of Surrey continues to remain at a high rate. Between April 1 and June 30, the By-law Enforcement Division reports a voluntary compliance rate of 95%. This is an increase from the voluntary compliance rate of 90% reported in the first quarter of 2014. The infractions that have been resolved include property maintenance, secondary suites and noise complaints.
“Secondary suite registrations continue to rise notably. As of the end of June, 25,406 secondary suites and 1,060 coach houses have been registered in the City of Surrey. Despite the surge in registrations, by-law officers have issued 31 tickets with the maximum penalty of $1,000 for illegal suites. The By-law Enforcement Division will continue to take an aggressive approach with problem properties.”
The City said: “By-law officers will also be available to help educate the community on the City’s by-laws and regulations and will continue to work in close collaboration with Surrey RCMP and Surrey Firefighters.”
Rehal said: “With by-law officers at full staffing levels throughout the week, residents can now come to expect and rely on the same level of service that is regularly found on weekdays.”
Surrey By-law Enforcement officers deal with a number of issues and complaints including:
* Construction without permits i.e. enclosing sundecks, additions, widening existing driveways or new driveways
* Land clearing and tree protection
* Unlicensed weekend street vendors
* Weekend sign regulations
* Dumping of refuse
* Importing of soil without permits
* Able to conduct secondary suite inspections on weekends
* Enforcement of commercial vehicle regulations – vehicles for hire and towing regulation
* Construction on Sundays
* Weekend related nuisance complaints
* Property maintenance and unsightly premises
On average, 13,000 complaints have been filed each year with the Surrey By-law Enforcement Division since 2010.
Photos by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio