Nuisance bylaw targets problem properties

Previous bylaws proved too ambiguous to enforce, says Esquimalt official

Esquimalt council hopes a new nuisance bylaw will allow them to deal with a small list of problem properties after previous bylaws proved too ambiguous to enforce.

The wording of the previous bylaw became an issue when township officials targeted a “high-priority” nuisance property.

The yard was filled with broken appliances and vehicles, animal feces, scrap wood and chickens. The township had received several complaints from neighbours. Vermin infestation also become an issue.

After the owner hired a lawyer to challenge the bylaw, Esquimalt officials realized that the current bylaw would not stand in court, so a rewording was proposed.

“We started the process, but eventually had to abandon it,” Esquimalt’s director of corporate services Anja Nurvo said.

“We did achieve a bit of cleanup though, and we’re continuing to monitor the property as some of the neighbours are still not satisfied.”

The township’s new maintenance of property and nuisance regulation bylaw, passed by council June 27, borrows wording from other municipalities and was designed to clarify a number of terms found in the previous bylaws.

Among these terms is “unsightly properties.” While the previous definition was fairly subjective, the new one makes clear what would make a property unsightly: graffiti, uncontrolled weeds, broken vehicles and broken, rotted or rusted fences or sheds among other things.

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