Big Valley council double all fines in their ‘nuisance’ bylaw

Written by Stu Salkeld

Big Valley village council doubled all fines listed in their nuisance abatement bylaw after agreeing the dollar amounts were too modest. The decision was made at the June 8 regular meeting of council.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald presented Nuisance Abatement Bylaw No. 827 to councillors after they had a chance to review it; at the May council meeting

Coun. Clark German asked that councillors examine it carefully to see if it needed revision or updating.

The bylaw provides rules for the handling of all sorts of different activities which could be deemed “nuisances” as they could under certain circumstances have negative effects on other residents or the community.

For example Section 6.a) notes “Conditions constituting a Nuisance, Danger and Unsightly Premise may include the storage, stockpile or accumulation and the failure to dispose of any refuse and discarded or dilapidated furniture or household appliances, scrap metals, scrap lumber, tires, motor vehicle parts and other like objects in a wrecked, discarded or abandoned condition.”

Section 6.b) notes, “Conditions constituting a nuisance, danger and unsightly premise may include uncut grass or the presence of weeds, which in the opinion of the Designated Officer, are excessive or which demonstrate neglect by the Owner.”

Section 11, “Construction,” states, “An owner shall ensure that building material on a property is removed or contained and secured in such a manner that prevents such material from being blown off or scattered from the property.”

German opened the discussion by stating he felt the bylaw was well-constructed and he didn’t find any major faults with it.

He did ask the CAO about Section 22. f), which is a list of options the village has when an order is issued under this bylaw.

Macdonald clarified part f) gives residents the opportunity to review or appeal an order. She noted such a request would be in writing and would then come to the village council.

German then asked about tickets and fines. The bylaw uses both the terms “violation tag” and “ticket,” and German asked if they aren’t the same thing.

Macdonald confirmed they are not. “They’re two separate items,” said the CAO.

Councillors discussed the fact that if the village staff themselves have to undertake work to rectify a problem under this bylaw, for example, shovelling a sidewalk, the rate charged to the property owner is $100 per hour with minimum charge of one hour.

Macdonald noted the village has never had residents force the issue, as any time a warning has been issued the resident has rectified the situation themselves.

It was also clarified that on top of the Public Works fee in those situations, a resident could also face a fine ticket.

The bylaw’s schedule B noted that tickets under this bylaw started at $50 for the first offence and went up from there.

Macdonald noted that essentially the purpose of a fine is to act as a deterrent to negative behaviours.

Clark then suggested fines for first, second third and subsequent tickets under this bylaw be doubled and added that he wasn’t proposing it in a malicious sense but rather to address the fact there are some chronics who are regularly warned about nuisances that could reflect badly on the community.

“We are a tourist little village, right?” he asked his peers.

The CAO noted during discussion the village uses a few different methods to address nuisances, including staff monitoring and complaints from the public.

Mayor Dan Houle noted he agreed with doubling the fines and focusing more attention on nuisances as that attention has been lacking somewhat over the past few years.

Doubling of the first, second, third/subsequent fines would therefore result in tickets of $100, $200 and $500, respectively.

Councillors instructed Macdonald to bring the bylaw back to a future meeting with the changes they’d agreed upon.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review


About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.