The By-law Enforcement Process
Municipal By-laws are laws written by a Municipality under the authority of Provincial legislation, such as the Municipal Act, the Building Code Act, and the Highway Traffic Act. Municipal by-laws are enacted to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents and visitors in the municipality.
Authority of Municipal Law Enforcement
Municipal Law Enforcement Officers (MLEOs) are Peace Officers pursuant to the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. Under the Provincial Offences Act, MLEOs are Provincial Offences Officers for the purpose of enforcing municipal by-laws.
MLEOs receive their authorities through the provisions of the by-laws that they enforce, and the enabling legislation from the province. Different by-laws are enacted under the provisions of different enabling legislation. For example, Property Standards by-laws are enacted under section 15.1 of the Building Code Act, 1992, S.O. 1992, c. 23 (ontario.ca), Clean Yards By-laws are enacted under the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25 (ontario.ca), and Zoning By-laws are enacted under section 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13 (ontario.ca).
Right to entry
Municipal Law Enforcement Officers have the authority to enter on and inspect any property at any reasonable time to determine compliance with municipal by-laws. This authority does not apply to places that are actually being used as a "dwelling" (a building or structure where someone lives). Where an inspection is required in a dwelling, the MLEO must obtain the consent of the occupant, who must understand that they may refuse entry. Without the consent of the occupant, the MLEO may only enter a dwelling under the authority of a warrant.
Obstructing an officer from exercising a power or duty, including the right to entry is an offence. This does not apply where an occupant exercises their right to refuse entry to a dwelling.
Enabling legislation - right to entry
Inspection of property without warrant
15.2 (1) Where a by-law under section 15.1 is in effect, an officer may, upon producing proper identification, enter upon any property at any reasonable time without a warrant for the purpose of inspecting the property to determine,
(a) whether the property conforms with the standards prescribed in the by-law; or
(b) whether an order made under subsection (2) has been complied with. 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (8).
Inspection powers of officer
15.8 (1) For the purposes of an inspection under section 15.2, an officer may,
(a) require the production for inspection of documents or things, including drawings or specifications, that may be relevant to the property or any part thereof;
(b) inspect and remove documents or things relevant to the property or part thereof for the purpose of making copies or extracts;
(c) require information from any person concerning a matter related to a property or part thereof;
(d) be accompanied by a person who has special or expert knowledge in relation to a property or part thereof;
(e) alone or in conjunction with a person possessing special or expert knowledge, make examinations or take tests, samples or photographs necessary for the purposes of the inspection; and
(f) order the owner of the property to take and supply at the owner’s expense such tests and samples as are specified in the order. 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (8).
Entry to dwellings
16 (1) Despite sections 8, 12, 15, 15.2, 15.4, 15.9, 15.10.1 and 15.10.3, an inspector or officer shall not enter or remain in any room or place actually being used as a dwelling unless,
(a) the consent of the occupier is obtained, the occupier first having been informed that the right of entry may be refused and entry made only under the authority of a warrant issued under this Act;
(a.1) a warrant issued under this Act is obtained;
(b) the delay necessary to obtain a warrant or the consent of the occupier would result in an immediate danger to the health or safety of any person;
(c) the entry is necessary to terminate a danger under subsection 15.7 (3) or 15.10 (3); or
(d) the requirements of subsection (2) are met and the entry is necessary to remove a building or restore a site under subsection 8 (6), to remove an unsafe condition under clause 15.9 (6) (b) or to repair or demolish under subsection 15.4 (1). 1992, c. 23, s. 16 (1); 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (9, 10); 2002, c. 9, s. 30; 2006, c. 19, Sched. O, s. 1 (11); 2006, c. 22, s. 112 (9); 2017, c. 34, Sched. 2, s. 20.
(2) Within a reasonable time before entering the room or place for a purpose described in clause (1) (d), the inspector or officer shall serve the occupier with notice of his or her intention to enter it. 1992, c. 23, s. 16 (2); 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (11).
Obstruction of inspector, etc.
19 (1) No person shall hinder or obstruct, or attempt to hinder or obstruct, a chief building official, inspector, officer or a person authorized by a registered code agency in the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty under this Act. 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (13); 2002, c. 9, s. 35 (1).
(2) A refusal of consent to enter or remain in a place actually used as a dwelling is not hindering or obstructing within the meaning of subsection (1) unless the inspector, officer or authorized person is acting under a warrant issued under this Act or in the circumstances described in clause 16 (1) (b), (c) or (d). 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (13); 2002, c. 9, s. 35 (2).
(3) Every person shall assist any entry, inspection, examination, testing or inquiry by an inspector, chief building official, officer or a person authorized by a registered code agency in the exercise of a power or performance of a duty under this Act. 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (13); 2002, c. 9, s. 35 (3).
(4) No person shall neglect or refuse,
(a) to produce any documents, drawings, specifications or things required under clause 15.8 (1) (a) or (e) by an officer or under clause 18 (1) (a) or (e) by an inspector or by a person authorized by a registered code agency; or
(b) to provide any information required under clause 15.8 (1) (c) by an officer or under clause 18 (1) (c) by an inspector or by a person authorized by a registered code agency. 2002, c. 9, s. 35 (4).
Obstruction or removal of order
20 No person shall obstruct the visibility of an order and no person shall remove a copy of an order posted under this Act unless authorized to do so by an inspector, officer or registered code agency. 1997, c. 24, s. 224 (14); 2002, c. 9, s. 36.
Offence re obstruction, etc.
426 (1) No person shall hinder or obstruct, or attempt to hinder or obstruct, any person who is exercising a power or performing a duty under this Act or under a by-law passed under this Act. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 184.
(2) A refusal of consent to enter or to remain in a room or place actually used as a dwelling does not constitute hindering or obstruction within the meaning of subsection (1) unless the municipality is acting under an order under section 438 or a warrant under section 439 or in the circumstances described in clause 437 (d) or (e). 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 184.
Power of entry re inspection
436 (1) A municipality has the power to pass by-laws providing that the municipality may enter on land at any reasonable time for the purpose of carrying out an inspection to determine whether or not the following are being complied with:
1. A by-law of the municipality passed under this Act.
2. A direction or order of the municipality made under this Act or made under a by-law of the municipality passed under this Act.
3. A condition of a licence issued under a by-law of the municipality passed under this Act.
4. An order made under section 431. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 184.
(2) By-laws passed under subsection (1) may provide that for the purposes of an inspection the municipality may,
(a) require the production for inspection of documents or things relevant to the inspection;
(b) inspect and remove documents or things relevant to the inspection for the purpose of making copies or extracts;
(c) require information from any person concerning a matter related to the inspection; and
(d) alone or in conjunction with a person possessing special or expert knowledge, make examinations or take tests, samples or photographs necessary for the purposes of the inspection. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 184.
Restriction re dwellings
437 Despite any provision of this Act, a person exercising a power of entry on behalf of a municipality under this Act shall not enter or remain in any room or place actually being used as a dwelling unless,
(a) the consent of the occupier is obtained, the occupier first having been informed that the right of entry may be refused and, if refused, may only be made under the authority of an order issued under section 438, a warrant issued under section 439 or a warrant under section 386.3;
(b) an order issued under section 438 is obtained;
(c) a warrant issued under section 439 is obtained;
(d) a warrant issued under section 386.3 is obtained;
(e) the delay necessary to obtain an order under section 438, to obtain a warrant under section 439 or to obtain the consent of the occupier would result in an immediate danger to the health or safety of any person; or
(f) the municipality has given notice of its intention to enter to the occupier of the land as required under subsection 435 (2) and the entry is authorized under section 79, 80 or 446. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 184.
Power of entry
49 (1) In this section,
“officer” means an officer who has been assigned the responsibility of enforcing section 46, orders of the Minister made under clause 47 (1) (a) or zoning by-laws passed under section 34.
Entry and inspection
(2) Subject to subsection (3), where an officer believes on reasonable grounds that section 46, an order of the Minister made under clause 47 (1) (a) or a by-law passed under section 34 or 38 is being contravened, the officer or any person acting under his or her instructions may, at all reasonable times and upon producing proper identification, enter and inspect any property on or in respect of which he or she believes the contravention is occurring. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13, s. 49 (1, 2).
Where warrant required
(3) Except under the authority of a search warrant issued under section 49.1, an officer or any person acting under his or her instructions shall not enter any room or place actually used as a dwelling without requesting and obtaining the consent of the occupier, first having informed the occupier that the right of entry may be refused and entry made only under the authority of a search warrant. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13, s. 49 (3); 1994, c. 2, s. 45 (1).
(4) No person shall obstruct or attempt to obstruct an officer or a person acting under the officer’s instructions in the exercise of a power under this section. 1994, c. 2, s. 45 (2).
What to expect when Municipal Law Enforcement attends your property
If a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer attends your property, they will attempt to make contact with the occupant. If the occupant answers the door, the officer will identify themselves and explain why they are there and what actions they will be taking. Officers carry identification and can be requested to show identification during the inspection. If the officer cannot make contact with the occupant, the officer will commence the inspection in their absence.
The enforcement process
The mandate of the by-law department is to obtain compliance with municipal by-laws. Municipal Law Enforcement Officers will attempt to gain voluntary compliance before proceeding to enforcement action. Voluntary compliance may include a verbal or written warning and providing education and resources. MLEOs may proceed straight to enforcement in situations related to immediate health, safety, and welfare, as well as in cases of repeat offences and parking offences.
Where voluntary compliance is not possible, the process for obtaining compliance depends on the type of violation that is occurring.
Property related violations
- a notice of violation is sent to the property owner/occupant providing details of the violation, the required repair, and a date that a reinspection will occur.
- a reinspection will occur. Where the property is in compliance with the notice, the file is closed with no further action. Where the property is in non-compliance, reinspection fees and a file management fee may be assessed to the person. Each reinspection may result in further fees being assessed.
- an order to remedy is sent to the property owner/occupant providing details of the violation, ordering the repair of the property, and a date that compliance is required.
- note: for Property Standards Orders, an appeal option is provided for in section 15.3 of the Building Code Act. The owner or occupant served with an order may appeal the order to the Property Standards Committee within 14 days after service of the order. Where a notice of appeal is received in accordance with the Act, no action can be taken by the Township until the appeal process has been completed.
- after the date of compliance passes, a reinspection of the property will occur. Where the property is in compliance, the file is closed with no further action. Where the property is in non-compliance, reinspection fees may be assessed.
- any person that fails to comply with an order is guilty of an offence and may be charged under the Provincial Offences Act. Further, the Township has the authority to enter on the property to complete the repairs at the expense of the owner.
- a notice of violation may be sent to the address reported on the by-law complaint form providing details of the alleged violation and the penalties for non-compliance.
- where violations continue, a formal investigation will be started including interviewing parties/witnesses and collecting evidence.
- the investigating officer will make a determination on whether enough evidence is available to support commencing a proceeding.
- where enough evidence is not available, the matter will be returned to the complainant until such time that new evidence can be provided or obtained.
- where enough evidence is available to proceed, the investigating officer will make a determination on how the offending party will be charged, taking into consideration the severity of the matter and the history of the offending party.
The Provincial Offences Act
The Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33 (ontario.ca) (POA) is provincial legislation that provides the procedures for enforcement of municipal offences, provincial offences, and minor federal offences under legislation such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
The POA is split into different parts. Parts 1, 2, and 3 provide the procedures for "commencing a proceeding", or charging, a person or corporation.
Part 1 of the POA provides the process for laying a charge against someone by "Certificate of Offence". This is normally done through a "Provincial Offence Notice" also known as a ticket. For a municipality to lay a charge by certificate of offence, the municipality must have approval from the Regional Senior Justice of the Ministry of the Attorney General approving the "set fines" requested by the Municipality. You can find the Township's approved set fines here: Set Fines for By-laws.
Part 1 also provides an option for issuing a summons instead of a ticket. A summons does not provide a set fine, and instead provides a court date ordering the defendant to attend court at the date, time and location mentioned on the summons. A part 1 summons is normally issued in two cases. The POA requires that a "young person" 12 years of age or older, but under 16 years of age, be issued a summons rather than a ticket, and has special rules for the penalties a young person can face. The other case is where a repeat offender is being charged for a second or subsequent time. Provincial legislation allows municipalities to implement a graduated system of fines where a person who has previously been convicted of the same offence will face increased fines. These fines must be implemented by issuing a summons.
Set fines and total payable
If you receive a ticket, you may notice that there are two dollar amounts, a "Set Fine" and a "Total Payable". The set fine is the amount that is approved by the Regional Senior Justice. The total payable is the amount of the set fine, plus an amount set by regulation including two surcharges, a "Victim Surcharge" and "Court Costs". Victim surcharges are based on the amount of the set fine, while court costs are set at $5. You can find more information about victim surcharges and set fines at O. Reg. 161/00: VICTIM FINE SURCHARGES (ontario.ca) and R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 945: COSTS (ontario.ca).
|Set Fine Range||Victim Fine Surcharge||Court Costs|
|Over $1000||25% of actual fine||$5|
Part 2 of the POA provides the process for laying a charge for parking, standing, and stopping of vehicles by the issuance of a "parking offence notice" (parking tickets). A person who receives a parking offence notice is provided with 15 days to pay the set fine, or to request a trial. Where a person fails to choose an option and deliver it to the address on the offence notice, a "Notice of Impending Conviction" is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. The notice will indicate that a conviction will be registered against them unless they pay the set fine or gives notice of an intention to appear in court for the purpose of entering a plea and having a trial.
The address for delivering your payment or notice requesting trial is the Howick Municipal Office: 44816 Harriston Road, Gorrie, Ontario, N0G 1X0.
A defendant who has been given a notice of impending conviction is deemed not to dispute the charge if 15 days have elapsed since the defendant was given the notice, the fine has not been paid and a notice of intention to appear has not been received. A "Certificate Requesting Conviction" will be sent to the court office, and if approved, a conviction will be registered in the defendant's name.
Failure to pay the fine imposed after a conviction has been registered will result in your Ontario Vehicle Permit not being renewed and no new permit being issued to you until the fine and all court costs and fees have been paid.
Part 3 of the POA provides the process for charging a person or corporation by laying an information and serving a summons to the defendant ordering them to attend court at the date, time and location indicated on the summons.
Laying an information
Any person may lay an information by swearing under oath before a Justice of the Peace that they believe, on reasonable and probable grounds, that one or more persons have committed an offence. The Justice will consider the information provided and will decide if a summons should be issued.
Service of summons
Service of a summons must be done by a Provincial Offences Officer, such as a Police Officer, a Conservation Officer, or a Municipal Law Enforcement Officer. A summons may be served before an information is laid if the Provincial Offences Officer believes an offence has been committed and the officer finds the person at or near the place where the offence occurred. In other circumstances, an information must be laid before a summons is served. If a summons has been issued before an information is laid, the Justice may cancel the summons and notify the defendant when the information is laid.