Unkempt property is responsibility of owner: Stettler County

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

Stettler County council turned down a request from a property owner who was sent a $1,200 bill after the municipality had to cut tall, unkempt grass. Councillors made the decision at their July 14 regular meeting.

Tax and Assessment Clerk Sharon Larsen stated the county billed a property owner in Buffalo Sands Estates for cutting unkempt grass and the property owner, whose name was removed from documents, requested councillors waive those charges.

“On June 22nd, 2020 several unsightly property complaints were filed with Protective Services located at lots: 49, 51, 53 and 55 on Buffalo Lane in Buffalo Sands Estates,” stated Larsen.

Larsen stated county staff inspected the lots in question and they did have tall uncut grass which violated the Nuisance bylaw. “The owner of the four lots in question belong to the same person residing in Calgary,” stated Larsen.

When the county contacted the property owner, noted Larsen, it was revealed the ratepayer was unable to clean up the lots due to health problems. She stated the county arranged to have the lots cleaned up Nov. 4, 2020 and sent the bill to the property owner, totalling $1,278.90.

Coun. James Nibourg asked how much time the property owners had to arrange the grass cutting and Director of Municipal Services Andrew Brysiuk answered the county usually handles tall grass complaints fairly quickly. However, he also noted the county contacted the property owner, the property owner refused to cut the grass and the enforcement order was approved four months later.

Nibourg stated property owners are responsible for maintaining their properties.

Coun. Ernie Gendre asked if council waived the bill, who ends up paying it? Nibourg answered that question by saying the rest of the county taxpayers.

Councillors defeated the property owner’s request by a 1 to 6 vote.

Taxes forgiven

Councillors granted tax forgiveness on a request from a resident who had a building destroyed by fire.

Council read a report filed by Larsen stating a property owner had a fire that destroyed a building and the owner subsequently asked that they not have the building on their tax bill.

“On April 15, 2021 the ratepayers had a fire on their property where they lost a large truck shop (8,200 sq ft),” stated Larsen’s report. “The ratepayer has asked if the county would consider a reduction in the taxes by prorating the value. As a result of the fire and insurance dealings they have lost their building, renters and sale of the property.”

Larsen explained the property was properly assessed at the time the building was still in existence, and only council has the authority to forgive a tax bill.

Councillors unanimously approved forgiving $1,801.58 in tax revenue on the destroyed building from the unknown property owner’s tax roll. “I think that’s fair,” said Coun. Nibourg.


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.