Code Enforcement And Warrantless Entry

Dave Killion — August 26, 2012

The Township of Esquimalt is one of the many local governments that comprise Greater Victoria. Here are a couple interesting items in their Building Bylaw:

7.2 A Building Official:

7.2.1  may enter any land, building, structure, or premises at any reasonable times, for the purpose of ascertaining that the terms of this bylaw are being observed

7.2.2 where any residence or secondary suite is occupied, shall obtain the consent of the occupant or provide written notice to the occupant 24 hours in advance of entry

 

25. PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT

25.1 Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw commits an offence punishable on summary conviction and shall be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Dollars) or to imprisonment for not more than six months.

 

Every municipality in Greater Victoria, and likely all of British Columbia, has a building bylaw with similar clauses. As you see, the power of a building official to enter your property without your consent is much greater than that of a police officer, and the penalties for resisting or denying entry can be severe. And as can be seen from this post on the Volunteer Blog, this situation exists in provinces all across Canada.

I have worked with building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers throughout Greater Victoria, and I have never heard of these rules being implemented to their full extent. I have, however, seen several instances where the threat of doing so has been used to attain compliance. Does this mean there really is no reason to worry about the existence of such regulations? No, it doesn’t. Regulations are weapons for the coercive state, and just like weapons, may sit harmlessly for ages. But when the state decides to pull the trigger, the effects will be devastating. Striking these rules is the equivalent of disarming violent criminals, and would best be done sooner, rather than later.

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