A longstanding issue over what the Village of Cumberland deems to be an unsightly property has it rethinking its enforcement bylaw.
At the May 30 meeting, council tackled the matter of enforcement actions for a Derwent Avenue home facing multiple complaints but also, as a late item on the agenda, considered a ‘good neighbour’ bylaw to give the village more powers.
“The village has an existing public nuisance bylaw,” corporate officer Rachel Parker said. “This bylaw is now enforced on a complaint basis…. We’ve realized some of the shortcomings of the bylaw and the need for some further enforcement tools.”
In the Derwent Avenue case, the latest staff report cites 33 written complaints as well as phone calls from the public.
The village’s plan now is to give itself more enforcement tools and broader powers than in the current nuisance bylaw. Parker told council that the bylaw was drafted under the authority of the Community Charter and was submitted for legal review prior to coming before council.
“The powers of the bylaw are deliberately broad,” she said.
The tools include cost recovery provisions from the property owner, such as fees for excessive service calls, compliance orders and abatement fees, or ticket fines.
One concern was whether the new bylaw could be too stringent, though Parker said they have added a purpose clause to clarify how enforcement will take place.
Some on council pointed out the village would act based on various factors and in the most extreme cases.
“These are for the most egregious properties,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said. “There would have to be multiple infractions and multiple complaints…. It really would have to be a problem property.”
Some members of council had questions around parking numbers per dwelling unit, as Ketler suggested four rather than the proposed two, at least for first reading of the bylaw.
Coun. Sean Sullivan responded the aim was not to go after people with two cars and a boat and suggested setting the vehicle limit at three.
“I’d like to give the staff the tools that they need to take care of these houses,” he said.
Coun. Vickey Brown had concerns over references to noxious weeds or ground cover exceeding 15 cm., adding they should be encouraging people to leave dandelions in the spring to help pollinators.
As an amendment, Ketler asked for the vehicle number to be changed to four, which carried. Brown then asked to remove the clause in the landscaping section covering height of grass, weeds or similar ground cover, which was passed as a motion.
Council then gave first reading to the bylaw, to allow for public feedback and more legal review, as well as recommendations for staff to update the village’s bylaw enforcement policy and to amend the municipal ticket bylaw to add ticket amounts for the new bylaw.