Draft of new Property Bylaw discussed in Committee of the Whole meeting

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A draft of the City of Fort St. John’s new and modernized Property Bylaw was presented to council yesterday.

Protective Services Director Jim Rodgers said that the proposal defines what maintenance city residents is required on their property. The proposed bylaw would replace the Nuisance and Unsightly Premises Bylaw, and enforce minimum standards for property owners in Fort St. John.

The new bylaw states that property owners will not be allowed to let buildings slip into a state of despair or neglect. Residents would also be expected to keep weeds, grasses, and fences maintained and free of litter. Grass on lawns and boulevards would not be allowed to grow over 20 centimetres (8 inches) tall, obnoxious weeds and litter would need to be removed and disposed of.

Buildings and structures would be expected to be maintained to a level where they do not become a safety or fire hazard. Bylaw enforcement officers would have the right to enter onto a property within City limits at any reasonable time to perform inspections and enforcement actions enabled by the bylaw.

Officers would have the right to:

  • Inspect and determine if all regulations are being met.
  • Take action on contraventions under the bylaw
  • Request the Owner or Occupier to produce documentation to enable the inspection, and/or enforcement action to proceed.

Penalties for not complying with the bylaw would be:

  • Bylaw Enforcement Officers currently enforce violations with the provisions of the Community Charter. Specifically the Municipal Ticket Information (MTI) and remedial action requirements for more serious public safety or nuisance issues.
  • We propose that the use of the Bylaw Notice and Adjudication process be introduced as an additional tool.
  • Bylaw Notice in conjunction with the MTI process would use a tiered fine system, increasing the penalty to the property owner/occupier for repeated offences. Bylaw Notice also creates an adjudication process for dispute resolution and in some cases opportunists for compliance agreements.
  • Prospective penalties would be determined by comparison with benchmark communities to see what is appropriate.

Owners would face a warning if they’re not meeting bylaw standards. A notice fine of $500 could be issued or if the city has to clean up at the owners’ expense, both would be applied or be placed on their taxes for the following year.

Councillor Gord Klassen inquired about if the proposal was waiting for the go-ahead from the province to continue forward.

Rodgers stated that both recommendations, upon confirmation from the province in regards to the Property Standards Bylaw application being approved, would be in the final stages of city and council approval to become a Bylaw Notice. He added that all paper work has already been completed.

Mayor Lori Ackerman said she felt that the wording of the bylaw is clear, but would like clarification from her team and for community feedback before being taken to a vote by Council. Council agreed to discuss the passing of the proposed bylaw at a later date.

The full video of the Committee of the Whole meeting can be found below.