Failing to bring unsightly properties into compliance could result in escalating fines under a Good Neighbour bylaw proposed for Sicamous.
At its May 12 meeting, District of Sicamous council gave third reading to the bylaw which, if approved, will replace the district’s Unsightly Premises Bylaw.
In presenting the bylaw, district corporate officer Jennifer Bruns explained education and voluntary compliance are preferred over enforcement. However, the new bylaw provides clearer language to support enforcement efforts when needed. This includes a definition of “unsightly” and list of conditions to identify when a property is as such. Among them: an accumulation of junk and filth, yard waste and/or derelict vehicles; fences in a state of disrepair; uncontrolled growth/lack of yard maintenance; and structural damage and/or decay. “Unsightly” also addresses property conditions that might provide “food or habitat to vermin.”
Bruns said the new bylaw gives the district the ability to declare when a property is a “nuisance property.” She said these are properties to which the district has made repeated service calls but has seen little or no evidence of compliance. Bruns said the Good Neighbour Bylaw would give council the ability, by resolution, to declare a property a nuisance property, “and then we can charge additional fees when they’re just not listening and following direction of bylaw enforcement officer.”
The proposed bylaw also incorporates the district’s noise bylaw. Bruns noted one change from the older bylaw is the elimination of “quiet hours.” The new bylaw, instead, focuses on the prohibition of “unreasonable noise” at any time. She said this change comes in recognition of the fact that a lot of Sicamous residents work shifts, and not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Included with the proposed bylaw is a schedule of fines which, in most cases, escalate between first, second and third/subsequent offences. For an unsightly or nuisance property, a $250 fine could be issued for the first offence, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third and subsequent offences. For unreasonable noise on private property or in a public place, fines start at $100 and go up to $500.
Asked if the new bylaw and fine structure could be applied to an existing file, Bruns said the district couldn’t escalate to a second offence, but those offenders do run the risk of being fined daily.
Council was supportive of the bylaw, but told that if any changes are needed prior to final reading, third reading could be rescinded.
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