Mayor Greg Dionne maintains work continues to gain greater power for the city to take action on derelict properties.
His comments stem, in part, from a letter brought forward to the most recent executive committee meeting, calling for amendments to municipal bylaws to allow for automatic inspections by bylaw, health and fire officials after a home is raided by police or when they become boarded up and draw criminal activity.
The letter explained how the writer routinely sees boarded up homes broken into and used for criminal activity until “SWAT pays them a visit.” The writer stated how a raid recently happened beside their home, and all the windows were blown out with a flash grenade. This exposed a home the writer claimed was already awash in mould further to the elements.
“Right now, our bylaw officers are doing a great job,” they wrote. “I believe it is time that the city backs them up by providing amendments to our bylaws.”
The matter is one Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha said has “blown up the email inbox and cellphones” for quite some time. He asked for the correspondence to be sent to the city clerks office and ran past the acting city solicitor to provide feedback and what is within councils purview to enact and what needs to be sent to the board of police commissioners by Nov. 13.
Dionne said the city’s new zoning bylaw set to come forward in the dying months of 2018 promises to take steps toward addressing some of the barriers. However, the mayor pointed to provincial legislation, specifically The Cities Act, for tying their hands.
“We have to give them (property owners) so much notice,” Dionne said. “We should be able to give 72 hours or 48 hours notice because when it comes to certain things, they should be cleaned up quicker than they are.”
Dionne said there is a long list of issues the city wants to address, but several would involve changes to the Cities Act, which can prove problematic.
“The province is very slow at making changes, especially to the Cities Act,” he said. “Many are hesitant to open up the Act because some will be positive changes and some will be negative.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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