Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew, in response to increasing requests from numbered companies who want to buy property in his town, has given three readings to a new bylaw that will ensure that any property owner seeking permits or other government services must first provide the town with detailed contact information in English.

Numbered companies means a company from overseas which does not necessarily proide information about who the owner will be when they buy property.

“You don’t have any information as to who it is, and you need to get hold of them,” said Drew of the matter.

When problems occur and the owner cannot be reached, it costs the village staff, according to the mayor.

The town of 700 residents has had experience with foreign numbered companies owning property already.

Last year a boat sank and started leaking fuel, but town staff couldn’t reach the owners until they contacted Port Metro Vancouver who found a lawyer who tracked down the Hong Kong owner.

This year, the town’s building inspector wanted to issue a stop-work order for a building renovation, but couldn’t get a hold of him, and, according to Drew, the contractor being used on the job was “not particularly cooperative.”

“It took a month to eventually track down who it was we needed to send the legal notification to,” Drew told the Province, who originally reported on this story. “Particularly in a small office you just can’t have staff spending hours and hours chasing after who the hell owns this place.”

Read more: Village of Balcarra Says English Only for Business