Fines for unnecessarily tying up White Rock’s emergency-response crews are to kick in Jan. 1, following final reading Monday of a new bylaw targeting false alarms.
The White Rock Security and Fire Alarm System Regulation Bylaw was drafted at the request of the RCMP, in the hopes of significantly reducing the number of such calls.
In a report to council, the city’s director of development services noted the number of false alarms is “excessive” for police – 429 in 2012 and, as of Aug. 28, 251 in 2013.
White Rock firefighters respond to an estimated 100 false alarms every year, he added.
Without the threat of a penalty for the inconvenience, residents and business owners have no motivation to ensure their systems are in good working order, Paul Stanton told council earlier this month.
“As long as they don’t have a fine, there’s no incentive to fix the faulty alarm.”
The bylaw incorporates fees for false alarms that begin at $100 for the second false alarm in any 12-month period; the third would cost $300; the fourth and any subsequent false alarm would cost the owner or occupier $500 each time.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin said the fact a warning will be the first step reflects the city’s “kinder and gentler” approach to the problem.
Updates to bylaws dealing with noise and unsightly premises, ticketing and animal control also received final reading Monday.
Stanton said the changes bring the bylaws up to speed with current legislation and – regarding the noise and unsightly premises bylaws – “allows us to also charge the property owner where we have a tenant situation.”
Amendments to the Ticketing for Bylaw Offenses bylaw will give enforcement officers authority to impose the maximum fine under the Community Charter for those nuisance properties.