Good Neighbour bylaw gets mixed reviews

By Vanessa Ybarra
November 8, 2017 - 4:59pm Updated: November 8, 2017 - 6:48pm

KAMLOOPS — Kamloops residents dealing with a nuisance property in their neighbourhood now have a new tool to fight back with.

On Tuesday, Kamloops City Council unanimously passed the 'Good Neighbour' bylaw that will go into effect November 21.

The new bylaw will charge landlords of nuisance properties the costs for RCMP and fire rescue to attend to nuisance calls at problem properties.

The city is hopeful the hefty fine will make landlords more cautious when choosing tenants.

Frieda Casey lived next to a former drug house on the North Shore for more than two years.

The block watch member claims she witnessed numerous drug transactions at the home on Alexander Avenue.

"I called the non-emergency police number countless line," said Casey. "Between me and my neighbours, we probably called at least a couple hundred times."

So when city council unanimously passed a 'Good Neighbour' bylaw Tuesday that's meant to crack down on nuisance properties, she was happy to hear the news.

"I think it's a really good first step," said Casey. "I like that the city has acknowledged that landlords need to be accountable and held accountable."

The city says a home is considered a nuisance if it receives a complaint more than once in a 24-hour period or more than three times a year.

Under the new bylaw, the owner of a nuisance property will be fined for police and fire personnel attending various complaints.

"The new bylaw has a fine schedule attached to it," said John Ramsey, Kamloops Bylaw Manager. "The minimum fine is $100 and it can go up to $10-thousand by going through legal action. It's about meeting the community standard. We all live here and have values and expectations of the city."

Ramsey said as long as landlords show they're cooperating with bylaw and working to resolve the problem, they won't have to pay the fine.

However those who choose to ignore it will have it added to their property taxes.

City Councillor Ray Dhaliwal said the new bylaw couldn't come soon enough following a shooting at a home on Nelson Avenue last month.

"I think it's a good start," said Dhaliwal. "It's all that is really allowed as far as the Community Charter goes so city hands are sort of tied but the onus is on the homeowner to actually evict the tenants."

Jay Barlow, who is the owner of the former problem home next to Casey, said the additional fine is unfair to landlords, many of whom are aware of problem tenants.

"If there's illegal activity going on, we have the right to give them an eviction notice but have to abide to the Residential Tenancy Act," said Barlow. "If they say they have no money they can move on with, we're stuck with them."

Barlow said he'd like to see the city work with the Residential Tenancy Branch to give landlords more rights to evict problem tenants.

For now, the city hopes a financial penalty is enough to put an end to problem properties.

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