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Reports delayed as municipal law enforcement staff spread thin

One report pushed to summer, another postponed to the end of the year; director maintains his department is not short staffed

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Following a busy 2015, Oshawa’s municipal law enforcement is facing delays in providing reports on time.

Last year saw Oshawa’s municipal law enforcement handle nearly 13,000 different calls for property, parking or animal complaints on top of service increases to deal with the hosting of the Pan Am Games.

Now, two reports slated for the first quarter of 2016 have been pushed back, one to the summer and the other not until the final quarter of the year, the corporate services committee recently heard.

The first is a report following a request from the Downtown Oshawa Board of Management to allow a permanent exemption from the city’s licensing bylaws for food and refreshment trucks during special events in the city’s core. The report was set to come back this month, but has been delayed until the fourth quarter.

The second delay relates to the final bylaw to govern the resale of cats and dogs in pet stores. The item, which garnered heavy media attention when it hit city hall in September, was planned to come back in February 2016, but has been pushed now until June.

Despite the delays, Jerry Conlin, director of municipal law enforcement and licenses services, denies that his department is short staffed, but a few positions are in the process of being filled.

Currently, the city is in the process of bringing in a replacement policy analyst after the previous employee left last year. Conlin says the department is also looking to hire another enforcement officer, and a third position, which recently became vacant that he wouldn’t comment on as the person resigned.

Along with taking on new responsibilites in garbage and ice/snow removal complaints, municipal law enforcement staff also saw a 36 per cent increase in property-related calls and a 13 per cent increase in property-related inspections last year over 2014.

Conlin says it is hard to point to one cause of this as Oshawa’s system is complaint based.

“That really depends on people calling us,” he says.

However, he did acknowledge that increased development and booming residential areas in the city’s north end could be a factor.

“We have more and more work up there all the time with new homes and everything being constructed,” Conlin says.

And while Conlin says his department’s workload isn’t slipping and they are meeting their requirements, he’s happy the additional work of 2015, like the Pan Am games, are behind them.

“It’s good that we don’t have some of the special projects going on right now because it helps us keep up with our regular work,” he says.