City council will look into taking a more active approach at enforcing bylaws by targeting derelict and vacant properties in the downtown core area.
Currently, the bylaw enforcement department is driven by public complaint.
“It doesn’t necessarily focus and target the areas that we want to see improved,” pointed out Councillor Sharie Minions during an April 10 meeting of city council.
She said she wanted to see city staff bring forward a plan where the department actively goes out and addresses bylaw infractions in target areas, specifically sidewalks, garbage around vacant lots and rundown buildings.
The report, she added, would provide some ideas for moving forward for a department that only has one bylaw enforcement officer.
Councillor Chris Alemany agreed that he supported having staff investigate this. “I’m always worried of our bylaw enforcement office being overworked as it is and shifting into an active enforcement role would likely increase that workload,” he pointed out.
But having that information, he added, might give council more evidence to actually staff the department.
Councillor Denis Sauvé warned, “We’ve got to consider that it’s a one-man show, and there are going to be a lot of taxpayers phoning in wondering why their complaints haven’t been dealt with.
“We have to identify what our city priorities are,” he added. “Are the fines adequate? Do we have the structure to enforce these fines?”
Minions agreed, “I think we all recognize that we don’t currently have enough capacity in our bylaw department and that’s just what we have based on the funds that we have available right now. But I think what this could do is let us set some priorities so that we can make more of an impact.”
Council will prepare a report itemizing options for moving forward with an active bylaw enforcement plan to address derelict and vacant properties in the core area.