Unsightly premises: A growing concern for Hanna

Town of Hanna
Written by ECA Review

Tracy Raypold, the Municipal Enforcement Officer spoke to Hanna council at the July 11 meeting regarding the Hanna Municipal Enforcement second-quarter report that Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill presented to council in her absence.

Unsightly premises have been the top issue for Raypold has been unsightly premises in June, she dealt with 34 cases.

There is a four-step process to deal with unsightly premises. Raypold explained that it is more extensive than the process they had before.

“I have developed a process for unsightly’s, it has a little bit of extra effort involved which already extends the long process,” said Raypold. “However, it is designed to reach compliance through education and community engagement.”

Step one is a general letter requesting compliance within seven days. If that is not done, step two, the property owner will receive a phone call. After each step, the property will be checked to see if they complied.

Step three involves issuing a “remedial order” with specific compliance requirements, posted on the property for 14 days, with an appeal option. If compliance isn’t achieved, photos are taken for reassessment.

Step four, the “clean-up order,” sets an inspection date and work commencement time by approved contractors following a failed attempt to remedy the situation.

These steps aim to gain compliance from the homeowner after unsuccessful attempts via mail and phone.

“I’ve really focused on the bulk of our more important properties being neglected properties that are either vacant or unoccupied that do get quite out of control,” said Raypold.
Lots of the unsightly properties are repeat offenders, Raypold explained to council.

Some difficulties with dealing with unsightly properties are that some people are not answering their phone or door, Raypold explained.

There have also been parking violations that have been causing issues. For parking violations, especially with trailers, Raypold cannot access information such as phone numbers and license plates.

CAO Neill told council that if they know anyone who has complaints about unsightly properties or parking violations, it allows Raypold to have all of the information needed to deal with the issue.

“Please refer them to the complaint form,” Neill said. “Then we get all the information on the issue, who it’s from, who the complaint is, what it’s about and those are our priorities when we get the complaints.”

To ensure that all violations are dealt with properly, they need to have all of the paperwork filled out and follow the process laid out by the Municipal Government Act so they do not get in trouble.

“That’s the problem, we just can’t walk in and go on someone’s property and clean it up,” said Neill.

Hanna Municipal Library 
Council has accepted the Hanna Municipal Library Board Safety and Use bylaw.

The bylaw needs to be renewed every few years, according to Coun. Sandra Murphy and there were only minor changes compared to the policy used in other years.

“The only thing that I could see that was different is that they’ve increased the laminating fees in schedule D from 75 cents per page to $1 per page,” said Neill.

Council passed the motion to accept the new bylaw.

After the motion was passed Coun. Sandra Beaudoin asked Murphy if the library would bring back volunteers to the same level they were at previously.

“We now have policies to not only protect the volunteers but also the library from some volunteers; there’s always a delicate balance,” explained Murphy. “We have a really good volunteer policy now.”

Murphy explained that in the past, volunteers were doing jobs that employees were supposed to do.

“What they are not supposed to do is replace employees,” Murphy said. “So having that clear distinct line is extremely important.”

Under the past system, volunteers were able to do more work.

“I believe the Alberta libraries division of the government was not supportive of that and did not want to see it happen,” CAO Neill said regarding allowing volunteers access to the network that contains personal information.

“We have regulations that we have to follow,” Murphy said. “So in some cases, they can’t come back if it’s going to be a constant problem.”

Jessica Campbell
ECA Review

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ECA Review