Under City of Powell River’s strict new bylaw regulating property maintenance and standards, home and commercial property owners can be ticketed and fined for unkempt yards.
Under an order approved at the regular council meeting on May 3, the city has authority to have yards cleared of rubbish.
If yards are not kept tidy, municipal employees, bylaw enforcement officers and contractors are free to enter the property for an inspection and, if the owner will not or cannot take care of the cleanup, the city will, and then hand the bill over to the offender.
“It's a big jump from asking someone to do it and we go in to do it for them,” said city clerk Chris Jackson. “Creating this ticketing was a bit of a bridge between the two so we don't have to jump straight to going in and charging thousands of dollars.”
The city can issue a ticket of $150 and if city employees are interfered with an additional fine of $500 will be incurred.
Jackson said the city tries to seek voluntary compliance but in some cases people cannot afford to clean up, even if they want to.
“The point is we want to get it cleaned up and if they don't have much they have to pay for the ticket and pay for the dump,” said Jackson. “We just want to make sure it's cleaned up and we can cancel the ticket. I'm not saying we will each time. It's situation dependent but the outcome we want is clean property.”
A provision for penalties upwards of $10,000 and the cost of prosecution can be assigned by the courts but Jackson said he thinks that is unlikely.
Six noxious weeds are now included in a long list of rubbish.
“They did add some more rigour around vegetation and nuisance vegetation, so when the property is left unkempt, it's not just lawn,” said Jackson. “When it's overgrown with vines and all sorts of other things we actually go in there and clean it up.”
In the case of lawns, the height of the grass cannot exceed 20 centimetres.
Bylaw enforcement is complaint driven and city hall receives the calls, according to Jackson.
“It's only a problem if the neighbour thinks it's a problem,” he said.
Vegetation referred to in the new city property and maintenance standards bylaw include non-noxious weeds, vines, nettles, shrubs, bushes, trees and other plant materials, whether growing, diseased or dead.
Conditions prohibited under the bylaw include:
Glass, bedding, mattresses, crates, rags, barrels, boxes and lumber not neatly piled
Paper, trash, refuse, cardboard, waste material and cans
Scrap iron, tin or other metal and scrap paving material
Discarded appliances or furniture
Discarded or disused materials, substances or objects
Garbage and filth
Construction or demolition waste, materials or equipment
Unused machinery, equipment or mechanical parts
Derelict vehicles, recreational vehicles, campers, utility trailers and boat trailers, transport trailers, boats, machinery, tires and equipment and machinery parts
Graffiti and unsightly conditions