By-Law Services

Performance Highlights

  • Among the highest call volume to officer ratios among the OMBI municipalities; it handles 90% more complaints than the OMBI median, partly due to the inclusion of both commercial and residential noise enforcement
  • Cost for enforcement per noise complaint is the second lowest and overall operating costs are below the OMBI median

 

Key Facts

  • 53,718 by-law complaints were addressed in 2005
  • Of those, 16,388 were in the four areas studied by OMBI
  • Approximately 5,000 additional by-law complaints were added when noise complaints were transferred to By-law Services from the Ottawa Police Service at amalgamation

The City of Ottawa helps protect public health and safety, and property through by-law enforcement. General municipal enforcement includes:

  • Animal care and control
  • Business licensing
  • Property standards
  • Noise control
  • Zoning enforcement
  • Parking control
  • Co-ordination of special events
  • Yard maintenance

Unlike the other OMBI municipalities, the City of Ottawa handles all categories of noise complaints. As a result, complaints and inquiries are addressed faster and police resources are freed up to address priority concerns. Because of the City’s unique model, its results vary greatly from the OMBI median.

How does Ottawa compare?
What is the City doing to improve by-law services?

How does Ottawa compare?

The following graphs provide some key results for 2005. A municipality’s performance results can be affected by a number of factors, such as:

  • Specific service standards set by Council
  • Population size and density
  • Geographic size
  • The type and quality of technological systems employed

In light of these factors, the following are some comparative results for by-law services.

How many by-law complaints are handled?
What are some of the by-law subject areas tracked through OMBI?

What is the cost of providing by-law enforcement services?

Which types of by-laws are most costly to enforce?

How many by-law complaints are handled?

Graph, 2005 - Number of By-Law Complaints per 100,000 Population

The number of complaints per 100,000 persons is 90% greater than the OMBI median. This is because Ottawa includes all categories of noise complaints while other OMBI members capture only a portion of them.

Ottawa is unique among the municipal OMBI members in this respect as the other municipal members rely on police services to fulfill part of this function.

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What are some of the by-law subject areas tracked through OMBI?

Graph, 2005 - Number of Noise, Zoning, Property Standard and Yard Maintenance By-Law Complaints per 100,000 population

This graph shows the number of noise, zoning, property standards, and yard maintenance complaints made to by-law services per 100,000 persons. These are the four categories of complaints measured by OMBI municipalities.

Ottawa is at the OMBI median for zoning and property standards complaints, and slightly below it for yard maintenance complaints. The number of noise complaints exceeds the median because, unlike its OMBI counterparts, Ottawa is responsible for all categories of noise complaints. This model allows complaints and inquiries to be addressed faster and frees up police services to address priority concerns. This model also provides more cost-effective service delivery.

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What is the cost of providing by-law enforcement services?

Graph, 2005 - Total By-Law Enforcement Cost per 100,000 Population

This graph shows the cost of by-law enforcement per 100,000 persons for animal control, yard maintenance, noise, and property standards. Ottawa’s total by-law enforcement costs are 5.2% below the OMBI median and second lowest among the OMBI municipalities. While this result is positive, the number of complaints received and handled in Ottawa has increased by approximately 69.9% over the last three years. The City will face considerable challenges if this trend continues while resources remain at the same level.

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Which types of by-laws are most costly to enforce?

Graph, 2005 - Yard Maintenance, Noise and Property Standard By-Law Enforcement Cost per Complaint

Some municipalities use their local police to handle residential noise complaints. Therefore, the results reported by the other municipalities reflect only commercial/industrial noise complaints. Noise complaints are one of Ottawa’s top three call generators. Further, complaints related to property standards have increased due to population growth, aging infrastructure, the harmonization of service levels, and the enactment of property standards by-laws that did not exist in some former municipalities. Ottawa has 12 officers dedicated to property standards/zoning enforcement compared to Toronto, which has 140 officers assigned to these functions, translating to 1.39 versus 5.19 officers per 100,000 persons, respectively.

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What is the City doing to improve by-law services?

The City is undertaking a number of key initiatives to improve by-law services. These include:

  • A new deployment model to optimize the number of officers in the field
  • The Biz Pal program, which aims to facilitate the timely issuance of business licences for Ottawa’s business community
  • The Bandit Cab program, which keeps unlicensed cabs off city streets and has been recognized as an industry best practice

The most significant challenges to improving by-law services are resources and technology. With current by-law services staffing levels, the City will not be able to maintain service standards or meet the increasing demand; therefore, it will not be able to fulfill its mandate. Enhanced technology is also required to allow the City to report on all OMBI indicators. At the moment, Ottawa can only report on 50% – or 24 of 48 – OMBI indicators.

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