At its Monday meeting, Courtenay council approved third reading of a bylaw that could be a potential avenue to hold property owners accountable for their behaviour.
The proposed Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw would permit “elevated enforcement action through injunctive or other legal proceedings,” a staff report states, as compared to the City’s Prevention of Public Nuisance Bylaw.
Responding to a question about process from Coun. Doug Hillian, deputy CAO John Ward said City staff would gather evidence for council, which would issue an order for abatement.
“That’s different than just doing bylaw enforcement at the staff level,” said Ward, the director of legislative and corporate services. “It would be in an open meeting that’s going to come to council.”
Like other B.C. communities implementing a similar bylaw, the offending party would attend a council meeting to speak to the situation.
“It’s a quasi–judicial system where you need to ensure that the accused, per se, has a right to be heard by council before imposing requirements on them,” Ward said. “There would be an opportunity to be heard, make their case, and council makes a decision.”
“How confident are you that it would actually make a significant difference in some of the cases we dealt with?” Hillian said.
“I think it’s going to make a big difference in compliance,” Ward said. “I think if a landowner knows he’s going to have to stand up in a public meeting that’s being recorded and justify why he hasn’t dealt with his issues, I think that’s going to make a huge difference. And that’s going to give the residents a voice.”
In recent months, several residents have complained about repeated undesirable behaviour from neighbours, largely concerning drug activity and noise.
Since 2018, bylaw services have received multiple complaints about three rental/tenant properties. Police have attended the properties on numerous occasions, but the behaviours have continued.
At the Sept. 3 meeting, a Courtenay resident urged council to adopt a new nuisance bylaw to deal with chronic problem properties. The RCMP has also expressed the need for such a bylaw.