The Village of Burns Lake is in the process of updating its Untidy and Unsightly Premises Bylaw No. 791, 2000, making the definitions clearer and adding regulations.
According to village staff, the current bylaw lacks clear definitions of what is considered “unsightly.”
“It [the updated bylaw] is a fairly substantial re-write,” explained director of protective services Rob Krause during a council meeting. “We went from five pages including signatures to nine – almost doubling the size of it.”
According to Krause, in the past two years the village has received complaints about absent landowners who don’t maintain their yards. However, since the current definition of “unsightly” wasn’t very clear, it made it difficult for the municipality to enforce the bylaw.
“Nowhere in the definition of unsightly does it say unkept lawn meets the definition,” said Krause. “Is it five, 10, 12 inches, or two feet high? That’s one example where we put substantial language based on complaints that we received from the public.”
In addition to better definitions, the bylaw covers several areas that are not included in the current bylaw, including pest infestations, water ponding, vacant buildings, retaining walls, as well as exterior walls, columns and beams, and maintenance of driveways and sidewalks.
“Currently in our bylaw there’s nothing that speaks to sidewalk maintenance, so the new bylaw as you will see does specifically talk about the maintenance of driveways, sidewalks and boulevards,” said Krause. “So the intent is to improve our ability to deal with some of the prior complaints that we’ve had.”
The updated bylaw defines an unsightly property as land that displays one of the following characteristics to such an extent that it looks “unkempt, unmaintained, dilapidated or in disrepair.”
– The accumulation of refuse, garbage, graffiti, discarded materials, filth or derelict vehicles;
– Fencing materials that are broken, rotting, contain holes or cracks, or are rusted or covered with peeling paint;
– Landscaping plants, bushes and trees that are dead or are demonstrating uncontrolled growth;
– Building or structure or parts thereof that contains holes, breaks, rot or that is crumbling or cracking, or is covered with rust or peeling paint or any other evidence of physical decay or neglect or excessive use or lack of maintenance; or
– Any other similar conditions or disrepair and deterioration regardless of the condition of other properties in the neighbourhood.
If a bylaw enforcement officer determines that regulations are not being met, the property owner may be given a bylaw notice. If the owner fails to comply with the notice, and has not disputed it, the municipality may order crews to enter the premise and “take action” to effect compliance with the bylaw.
Any person committing an offence under this bylaw is liable, upon summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $100 for each day, or part of a day, upon which such offence was committed.
Last week council authorized staff to send the bylaw to legal counsel for review.