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Nuisance property owners could face charges

While the action taken to clean up the house at 356 McGowan Ave. doesn't quite fit what a potential nuisance bylaw would cover, it is an example of a property that has taken up a lot of staff resources.
May 05, 2014 - 12:19 PM

KAMLOOPS - Potential changes to how the city deals with nuisance properties would see the owners of properties generating a lot of calls to bylaw and police officers charged for those services.

City Community Safety and Enforcement Manager Jon Wilson says staff has been looking at the way Nanaimo deals with nuisance properties and whether a similar program makes sense here.

“It’s a very, very good program to look at,” Wilson says. “It could substantially reduce the number of calls (from neighbours.)”

In Nanaimo the program has been used since 2003 to deal with residential, commercial and industrial complaints and is considered a high level success. Both RCMP and bylaw departments keep files and will meet with the site owner to go over the source of the complaints and usually the issue is resolved without having to be declared a nuisance property.

If the property does go before council and is deemed a nuisance the property owner is then charged for all related calls back to the property. One commercial property in Nanaimo has already accumulated an $11,000 bill, Wilson says, and if that is not paid then it goes onto the tax bill.

In Nanaimo there are about 30-40 properties staff gets calls about and many are dealt with in a timely fashion. Only two or three end up before council though some properties are dealt with by police because they meet the ‘criminal code threshold.’

Wilson notes it’s often poor management and once the owners are educated about the issues (often parking, noise or mess related) and their roll in fixing them less complaints from neighbours come in.

RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller says the bylaw would be a good tool to have.

“We’re looking forward to it, it will benefit everyone when it’s up and running,” he notes. “There are some properties we spend a lot of time on… some properties we’re responding to repeatedly that don’t reach the criminal code threshold.”

Mayor Peter Milobar says the bylaw would be a way of catching those properties that fall in between right now, that do not reach health or crime thresholds.

“They’re just that pain in everyones butt,’ he says, adding, “It allows us to put a bit of pressure on the owner.”

While the house on McGowan staff recently stepped in to clean up following a 2008 fire doesn’t quite fit the bill for what this bylaw would cover calls coming out of a house on Linden that is also known for criminal activity would. Mueller notes neighbours seem to be annoyed by that property and will call about everything that happens there, not just criminal activity.

The mayor warns the bylaw would not be an immediate fix to these types of properties though.

“This is not you call the city and demand it be deemed a nuisance, you call the RCMP… and it will be monitored over a period of time,” he notes. “It is still going to be a long running neighbourhood problem before it ultimately gets solved.”

Staff will continue to look into the resource impacts a nuisance bylaw like this would have on city staff before making a recommendation to council. In the meantime a couple residents will be before council this week asking them to consider putting a nuisance abatement bylaw in place.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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