Yellowknife city council will be keeping a close eye on the city’s Municipal Enforcement Division (MED) this year.
On Monday night, councillors unanimously adopted three priority areas for the division over the course of 2015.
In particular, council says it wants to see:
- improved customer service and interactions with the public;
- more foot and bike patrols on the Frame Lake Trail and in the downtown core; and
- a more proactive enforcement of municipal by-laws.
“I’m really happy to see this coming forward,” said councillor Niels Konge. “I really hope that this will help improve MED’s public image.”
Last fall, an independent review of municipal enforcement in the city found that officers have been given neither clear priorities, nor clear policies to follow.
There was also some concern that the division’s public image wasn’t a positive one.
“In order to improve interactions with the public, you have to be interacting with the public,” said councillor Dan Wong.
“A first step of interacting with the public is to start getting out of the vehicles more of the time and start being a visible presence on the trails and in the downtown core on foot or on bike.
“It’s also going to be a way to proactively enforce by-laws because it’s a visual deterrent and when there is a by-law infraction such as littering or a dog by-law infraction, I think [officers] will be much more aware outside of the vehicle.”
Like many of his colleagues though, Wong expressed concern over how some of the priority areas would be measured.
“My fear is that improved customer service culture and interactions with the public as well as increased proactive enforcement of municipal by-laws are a little too ambiguous for me.
“I want to make sure that these priorities are able to be translated by staff into action, but I look forward to seeing what we can do with that division.”
In addition to providing monthly reports with statistics related to patrols and by-law infractions, Mayor Mark Heyck says the division will also be responsible for providing a report outlining how priorities set by council have been addressed.
The ultimate goal, says Heyck, is to have the division enforce municipal by-laws more proactively as opposed to leaving it up to complaint-driven processes.
“A lot of this year is going to be about establishing the benchmark but we’re doing that,” said councillor Adrian Bell.
“The other option would be to record information for a year and then try to make changes but we’re doing both at the same time.”