The news that the District of Saanich is telling property owners to clean up their land is being welcomed by some of those who live in the area.
Council has approved a staff recommendation to declare 5360 Old West Saanich Rd. an unsightly property, giving the owners 30 days to clean it up.
If the property owners don’t comply, the district says it will clean up the site and then bill the owners. If the bill isn’t paid, it will get added to the owners’ property tax bill.
Black Press Media visited the site to see what the area residents think.
“It’s a total eyesore,” one neighbour said while he was walking past the site (the neighbour didn’t want their name used). “It’s unfortunate things got to this level.”
“It doesn’t have to look perfect, but something has to be done,” said Gary, another neighbour who didn’t want their full name used. “This has been going on a long time.”
A district staff report referenced the “accumulation of refuse, junk, recyclable material, appliances, furniture, household fixtures, tarpaulins, hoses, wood, metal, plastic, nylon, paper, glass, cardboard, equipment, signs, containers, derelict boats, unenclosed storage of vehicle parts and supplies, other discarded and salvaged materials and all vehicles that are not capable of normal vehicular operation” on the property.
The staff report details a long journey to get to this point.
“The property was purchased by the current owners on July 29, 2008,” reads the report. “Since that time, Bylaw Enforcement Officers have attended this property in response to numerous complaints.
On March 17, 2022, the Bylaw Enforcement Office received a complaint that there were a number of unlicensed vehicles on the property and “concern about debris and items located in proximity to O’Donnel Creek, which is located on the property,” said the report, adding that O’Donnel Creek is one of the largest tributaries to Elk and Beaver Lake with ongoing efforts to restore the creek to increase water quality within the lake.”
The environmental concerns prompted a concerted effort to clean things up. The district also starting fining the property owners to encourage compliance.
“Given the potential for environmental damage, staff worked directly with the owners to ensure the timely removal of potentially harmful materials from the area in proximity to the watercourse,” said the report. “While the immediate environmental concerns were addressed, the Property continues to violate District bylaws due to a significant accumulation of filth, discarded materials and rubbish. Staff have escalated enforcement steps from seeking voluntary compliance to issuing Municipal Ticket Informations for the breaches. It has become clear that the property owners are not going to comply with the provisions of District bylaws despite warnings and fines being issued.”