Complaints about alleged violations of municipal bylaws in the Town of Bay Roberts have surged in recent years, says the man responsible for enforcing those regulations.
Perry Bowering has served as the town's lone municipal enforcement officer for eight years, and his job has changed dramatically during this period.
"It's broader and more complex than when I first started," Bowering stated. "It's a different job."
Bowering is sensing that instead of talking with one another, neighbours will call the town to sort out issues such as land disputes, noise complaints or roaming animals.
He believes that's to be expected for a town that is growing at the pace being set by Bay Roberts, where hundreds of new homes have been built in recent years. Unlike in the past, neighbours are not always known to each other, and this means his phone is ringing more often.
"The calls have tripled," Bowering stated. "There seems to be more conflict.
"Neighbours don't want to speak. At least that's what I find."
Bowering gave that assessment during the opening day of the 22nd annual conference of the Atlantic Bylaw Officers' Association (ABOA), which is being held in Bay Roberts from June 17-19.
It's just the second time the association has staged its yearly meeting in Newfoundland and Labrador, with Gander serving as host in 2007.
Just under 50 delegates from Atlantic Canada and Ontario have travelled to Conception Bay North for a conference that will tackle topics such as interviewing skills, firearms awareness, communications, animal control and self-defence.
Bowering is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Police Association, and is a director with ABOA.
He lobbied to have the conference in Bay Roberts, and pointed out that membership in ABOA from this province is growing steadily.
Bowering said it's apparent that many towns, including Bay Roberts and Carbonear, are investing more resources into municipal enforcement, and that is showing itself in the form of better technology, enhanced training and more stringent qualifications.
That's a view shared by the president of ABOA, Grace Broszynska, who is a bylaw enforcement officer with the municipalities of King's County and Annapolis County in Nova Scotia.
Not long ago, she said, enforcement officers were shuffled off to a dark corner of the municipal building, and largely overlooked and undervalued. And there often wasn't much emphasis on education and experience during the hiring process.
Not any longer, she said.
"The profile and calibre of the enforcement officer has increased because of higher qualifications and conferences like this," she said.
She pointed to a new certification program that was established a year ago.
She added that enforcement officers are having to be more creative when it comes to settling disputes or alleged bylaw infractions in order to avoid costly court action.
"We are doing our best to be more effective and efficient with resources," she explained.