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Summerside councillor frustrated no bylaw officer in place yet

A woman snaps a photo of Summerside City Hall in this undated photo.
A woman snaps a photo of Summerside City Hall in this undated photo. - Google maps
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

According to the City of Summerside’s unsightly premises bylaw, all lawn grass must be kept below 20 cm or the property owner could face a visit from a police officer.

But should Summerside Police Services Officer be spending time measuring grass?

Some Summerside city councillors say it is not and they are pushing for the hiring of a dedicated bylaw enforcement officer to take over such duties.

City staff have been researching the idea and gave council an update during its recent committee meetings.

The most significant part of that update involved the city’s preliminary discussions with the Summerside Police Services union, CUPE Local 1174.

The union is of the opinion that any new bylaw officer hired by the city should be a part of the union, otherwise such a person would be taking work away from its members. If the city were to proceed with creating that position without union participation it would likely end up in a grievance being filed.

“The option of hiring an outside contractor is not necessarily a clean one,” said Gordon MacFarlane, the city’s acting chief administrative officer and director of legal services.

Three options

So the city really has three main options, added MacFarlane, which include hiring a contractor and going through the grievance process with the union, adding a potentially expansive new unionized position or creating an accommodated position for a current police officer who might be unable to otherwise perform their regular duties.

MacFarlane said Charlottetown’s bylaw officer currently falls under that third option and there is one Summerside Police Officer who might need some accommodated in the near future who might be a good fit. But it’s not guaranteed.

Several councillors expressed their preference for the idea of putting a current officer who needs reduced duties into a bylaw officer role, but they also indicated they’d like a position created regardless of if that’s the case or not.

Coun. Cory Snow has been one of the most vocal councillors pushing for this position to be created and he expressed his frustration at the lack of progress to date.

“I feel like we’re just sitting here spinning our legs. That there is just every reason in the world why we can’t get one, yet every community around seems to have them. I find it absolutely ridiculous that it’s taken this long. We’re sitting here and the whole summer has gone by and nothing’s been done,” said Snow.

Council made no decisions one way or the other during the meeting, though Snow indicated it’s a subject he continues to pursue.

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