Issues such as tree protection and nuisance abatement are requiring greater attention from the City of Courtenay’s bylaw department.
Last year, bylaw services conducted a six-month investigation — the largest in Courtenay’s history — where two companies were fined $214,000 for cutting 107 trees along a protected waterway. Also last year, the city recovered $22,000 in nuisance abatement costs from the owner of a long-standing non-compliant property.
The property has been sold and is now in compliance with city bylaws.
“We consider that (file) a win and success as far as giving the neighbourhood some peace of mind,” Kate O’Connell, director of corporate services, said at the June 27 council meeting.
Lack of housing, and lack of mental health/addiction supports is contributing to an increasing number of urban issues such as homeless encampments, in terms of size, numbers and locations. Bylaw services is working with the CV Transition Society, the RCMP and the CV Coalition to End Homelessness as it responds to the increase. In an effort to keep parks accessible, bylaw services conducts daily, bi-weekly or weekly inspections of camp locations.
According to a Nov. 1, 2021 report about encampments on city property, the local homeless rates were estimated as follows:
•54 individuals were staying at a local hotel (BC Housing Community Shelter Expansion);
•89 people were on a waiting list for the Junction supportive housing complex;
•96 unique individuals accessed overnight shelter at the Connect Warming Centre.
Coun. Wendy Morin said the increase in numbers following the closure of temporary, seasonal shelters reinforces the need for a purpose-built shelter in Courtenay. In April, council discussed this issue with Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard and with Minister Responsible for Housing David Eby. Council was given support to seek additional temporary units for supportive housing purposes, and to co-ordinate efforts through a memorandum of understanding between BC Housing, the province and the city.
In another development, the city is working with Habitat for Humanity to help complete the Piercy project, and towards an MOU with Habitat about a property at 2140 Lake Trail Rd.