BONNYVILLE – Calls of aggressive dogs, overflowing garbage and unsightly properties tops the list of concerns responded to by the Town of Bonnyville’s new community peace officer (CPO) in 2023.
After more than one year on the job, the Town’s CPO Wanda Tomm presented an annual review during a regular council meeting on Nov. 14.
Animal control, community standards and garbage bylaws were among the most reported and serious bylaw calls Tomm responded to since August 2022.
Throughout the year, Tomm has received various complaints of aggressive dogs and nuisance dogs which have involved several severe dog bites within town limits.
“In these instances, the dogs either attacked other dogs or humans,” Tomm informed council. Of the more severe incidences, a child under five was sent to hospital for stitches and a youth ended up with over 16 stitches and was sent to the Stollery hospital in Edmonton.
Nuisance dog fines were issued to the owner of an aggressive dog if the complainant consented, noted Tomm. “Since August 2022, we have not had repeat attacks by the same dog, yet.”
When it comes to animal control, Tomm also responded to dozens of calls involving dogs and cats at large, as well as stray, injured or deceased animals.
Tickets are issued to owners for dogs at large and come with an impound fee, which can be upwards of $150 or more. An unlicensed dog is deemed a second offence under the Town’s bylaw – and fines reflect this.
Tomm has brought 22 dogs found at large to the Town’s designated kennel at the Bonnyville SPCA. Only four of those dogs were claimed by an owner, one of which was a repeat offender.
Since entering the role in August of 2022, Tomm has responded to 1,192 files.
Responding to community complaints as well as working with external agencies, Tomm collaborates with the Town’s planning and development department, public works, the Alberta SPCA, the local RCMP Detachment and fire department.
On average, Tomm deals with five to eight files nearly every day, she noted.
The Town’s protective services department has dealt with 138 animal incidents, 127 traffic violations, 114 unsightly properties and 52 garbage related incidents in 2023, to date.
Other incidents included handing out 46 provincial warnings and tickets, 28 files related to criminality, 12 incidents of petty trespassing and 12 incidents related to fires.
Curbing overflowing garbage
Files relating to misuse of garbage receptacles have dropped considerably since consistent enforcement has been taking place, noted Tomm.
These bylaw infractions typically relate to overflowing receptacles or unauthorized items being disposed of. Homeowners are warned with an orange door knocker, or in person.
“You are definitely making an impact,” said Coun. Neil Langridge. “They seem small but a lot of the enforceable bylaw actions, like the garbages for one, you see it's so much cleaner than it was before we had a CPO. It's some of those little things that do get noticed.”
Tiding up unsightly properties
Langridge went on to note the impact protective services and the planning and development department have had on unsightly properties in town, and positive reactions from the public.
“The cleanup of the properties, some of those we've been looking to get cleaned up many times. I know that you and the staff and the administration work on it together... just a kudos as well,” added Langridge
In the last year, Tomm and other town administrators began the process of addressing three major unsightly properties in town, all of which were vacant. This process takes a considerable amount of time, effort and legality, heard council.
“The goal is that we will continue to address the remainder in the spring of 2024,” Tomm informed council.
Looking to the year ahead, Tomm noted that more attention will be paid to traffic violations, school zones and bus lane issues.