Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Municipal by-law harmonization underway across MRC Pontiac

Enforcement will remain unchanged, says public safety coordinator

Connor Lalande
Shawville July 13, 2023
Enforcement of municipal by-laws will remain unchanged even after recommended updates by MRC Pontiac’s Public Safety Committee take effect, says an MRC official.
“It’s always been the same system,” said Julien Gagnon, MRC Pontiac’s Public Safety Coordinator. “We’ve always had these by-laws and they have always been applied by the SQ, that hasn’t changed.”
As covered in THE EQUITY’s August 2 edition, the MRC Pontiac’s Public Safety Committee has recommended a variety of by-law changes to the 18 municipalities that make up the MRC. The plan to update by-laws relating to parking, safety, peace and order in public areas, nuisances, peddling, outdoor use of water and alarm systems was universally agreed by municipal mayors at their June council meeting. The process of ratifying the updates by their respective municipal councils is underway.
MRC Pontiac does not retain its own police force or by-law enforcement officers so, on behalf of the municipalities, contracts enforcement of by-laws to the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). Under the contract, SQ officers are responsible for issuing warnings and fines in accordance with municipal by-laws.
With the SQ handling enforcement throughout the 18 municipalities of MRC Pontiac, the municipalities work to harmonize their by-laws.
According to Gagnon, in the event of the SQ issuing a fine for a by-law infraction, citizens can challenge the fine in municipal court.
“We have a contract with a lawyer’s firm that will defend all our files in court. Every couple of months, at the courthouse in Campbell’s Bay, the MRC sends their lawyers and they defend our fines for those who have pleaded not guilty,” Gagnon said.
“The judge will then render a decision of whether they’re guilty or not.”
The recourse for those who do not pay their by-law fine after being found guilty depends on the type of infraction. In offences relating to parking, for example, an individual’s driver’s license or vehicle registration could be suspended.
Offences unrelated to parking have the potential to be handled differently.
“If it’s not related to a parking matter, a bailiff could be sent to try and collect if they don’t pay,” Gagnon explained.


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