Bylaw gives bite to property clean up in Esquimalt

In the past two months, council has ordered three homeowners to clean up their property within 30 days

  • Jan. 26, 2015 6:00 p.m.

Esquimalt is cleaning up with its new unsightly property bylaw.

In the past two months, council has ordered three homeowners to clean up their property within 30 days or face further action by the municipality.

It’s the first action taken by  council in more than three years, when it was determined the old bylaw likely wouldn’t stand up to a legal challenge.

There are more than 30 unsightly properties registered with the municipality.

Blair McDonald, director of community safety services, said several factors contributed to a number of unsightly properties.

Prior to 2012, Esquimalt didn’t have a full-time bylaw officer, and when one was hired he needed to deal with a backlog of complaints. It was also at this time that the city learned that it could have legal challenges over the existing bylaw.

“[The legal opinion] put everything on hold until the new bylaw came in last June,” McDonald said.

Now the challenge is to get through the backlog of complaints. So far about a half-dozen property owners have agreed to clean up their yards to an acceptable standard.

The others on the list require some attention.

Last week, two homeowners – one at 892 Colville Rd. and another at 814 Wollaston St. – were ordered by council to clean up their property.

Mayor Barb Desjardins said the township doesn’t want to be hard-handed with property owners – it only wants compliance to the bylaw.

“With the new bylaw in place and the extra teeth that we have, the process has worked well,” she said.

Homeowners who are ordered to clean up their property by council are given 30 days to comply. If they refuse, the township can then enter the property, clean up the mess, and invoice the property owners for expenses.

“We will work with the homeowners as much as we can and we are reasonable on how we approach it,” McDonald said. “But after awhile push comes to shove.”