Kimberley Council looks at Good Neighbour ByLaw

Bylaw woudl give enforcement officer more tools

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For well over a year, City staff has been going over old bylaws, and bringing them up to date. Some have been replaced. Some have been consolidated. It’s an ongoing process.

The latest bylaw to come to Council table for approval is the Good Neighbour ByLaw. This will consolidate several nuisance type restrictions under one umbrella.

Corporate Officer Maryse Leroux summarized the issue in her report to Council.

“Although most citizens of Kimberley comply with City bylaws following a warning by the Bylaw Enforcement Officer, other, more uncooperative residents, repeatedly fail to meet reasonable community standards set out in the regulatory bylaws. The Bylaw Enforcement Officer requires compliance tools beyond those currently available in the City of Kimberley’s regulatory bylaws, including compliance order, fines, nuisance abatement fees and repeat nuisance service calls fees to detract them for continuing the offence and cooperate.”

Leroux explained that many municipalities have enacted Good Neighbour Bylaws. They generally deal with unsightly property maintenance, graffiti, noxious weeds, noise regulations and panhandling, and provide compliance tools.

The proposed bylaw, which received first three readings on Monday evening, will regulate firearms and bows; parks and public spaces; noise regulations; panhandling; property maintenance and vacant buildings.

The proposed draft bylaw provides for provisions that authorize the issuance of Compliance Orders, which require an owner or occupier to bring the property into compliance within a stipulated time period. If the owner or occupier of the property does not comply with the Compliance Order, that person shall be responsible for the costs and expenses incurred by the City to remove, clean up, and dispose of the specified objects and/or materials, including any cost of repairs to damaged City equipment, vehicles, or property. The owner or occupant may also be subject to nuisance abatement fees, which are calculated on a cost-recovery basis, are levied against a property owner, and may be recovered as property taxes.

Properties causing significant ongoing nuisances can disrupt whole neighbourhood and negatively affect the enjoyment and peace of residents in surrounding areas. Properties that may see the use of nuisance abatement fees include ongoing unsightly premises, those regularly causing disturbing levels of noise, those associated with criminal activities that cause nuisances and in instances were owners display an ongoing apathy for complying with reasonable community standards.

A property that generates multiple nuisance complaints may be designated a nuisance property. Specifically, under the proposed bylaw, a nuisance property designation may occur when a property attracts more than one nuisance call within 24-hour period or more than three nuisance service calls within a 12-month period. A nuisance service call includes, but is not limited to, a response from the Bylaw Enforcement Officer or the RCMP as a result of a nuisance complaint. This approach places the onus on owners of rental properties, including vacation rentals, in particular, to ensure properties are managed and maintained in a reasonable manner.

When a property has been deemed a nuisance property, the owner of the property will be provided with written notice of the City’s intent to charge for subsequent service calls.

The charges will be calculated on a cost-recovery basis, levied against a property owner, and may be recovered as property taxes. If the owner or occupant of a property disagrees with the issuance of a Compliance Order or with a demand for payment of abatement or repeat nuisance service calls fees, the said owner or occupant may apply to Council for reconsideration within 10 days.