The City of Prince Albert has responded to complaints from an owner of multiple properties who labelled city hall “selective and vindictive” for going onto one his lots to mow overgrown grass and weeds.
The incident last week could have had tragic consequences as a gas line was ruptured. However, the city said it gave the owner proper notice of the unsightly premises and the gas line was not safe following the demolition of a house on that lot.
“Our bylaw department is very consistent,” City Manager Jim Toye told paNOW in response to the complaints from Josh Morrow. “There’s no person that we single out. If they are doing something that is contrary to bylaw they’ll be fined and we’ll go through the process.”
In response to complaints that Morrow had not received notification of the need to have his lot cleaned up, Toye said the city had sent notice to his address but noted Morrow spends lengthy periods out of town. After meeting Morrow last week, an arrangement would be made to have certain notices sent by email in the future, he said.
Safety was the primary concern raised by the landowner because a city worker hit a gas line with the mower. Toye doesn’t disagree.
“There’s no doubt, apparently the gas line was protruding from the ground but because the weeds were so high it wasn’t seen by staff,” he said. “It could have been tragic if that lawnmower hits the line and it sparks; it could have been a big deal.”
Toye said whenever a building is demolished on a lot it’s up to the property owner to contact the provincial utilities so power and gas can do whatever is necessary and to make sure the demolition is safe. He said SaskEnergy “don’t leave a line up like that” and take it back to the service [connection] and unhook it there.
Toye was unable to say what costs Morrow may face from SaskEnergy for dealing with the ruptured gas line but said the city was not out of pocket. He added the cost to the landowner for the city to clean up a lot is based on how much work needs to be done.
“There’s no flat charge and we don’t make money out of it,” he explained. “If we use city staff we’ll bill for their time and if we can’t get to it then we call out a contractor and their bill gets sent to the landowner.”
Toye said when it comes to compliance with bylaw and following the rules “99 per cent of the city is great” but a lot of the time it was the same individuals they were having to give notices to.
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