Kitimat council given outline on how to fight unsightly homes

The outline on how to handle unsightly homes was provided to council by Kitimat district staff.

Kitimat Council has taken in a report from the staff which sets out the process for dealing with unsightly premises in Kitimat.

The report from the District’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer lays out three ways the town can enforce unsightly properties in town. The first is using tickets, and is said to be best used for easily rectified problems, such as brushing the yard or removing debris.

Second is court-ordered enforcement for clean-up or rehabilitation. Finally, the Community Charter allows for remedial action on properties, which does call for an extensive process which brings the matter to council. If work eventually has to be undertaken by the District then that cost is added to that homeowner’s property tax bill.

Historically there have been hurdles to effectively enforcing unsightly properties, notably the legal aspect. “I know it’s really tough when you’re living next to something that doesn’t look overly great but if it’s something that’s still inhabitable and it’s more of the aesthetics, it’s something you have to try to work through,” said Warren Waycheshen, referring to the difficulty in convincing a court that a home was a nuisance through law, rather than simply being bad looking.

In other communities enforcement has also been met with threats of violence to municipal workers, he said.

The definition of a ‘nuisance’ property under the Community Charter is “so dilapidated or unclean as to be offensive to the community.”

The house, staff’s report continues, must be a nuisance in law “to the surrounding area, such that it is affecting other people’s enjoyment of their properties.” Councillors were supportive of the three-pronged process the town could take (tickets, court, or remediation) and welcomed a quicker pace to deal with properties.

“We’ve received letters and pictures of some very ugly properties and if we can use municipal ticket information systems to go to the full max…then so be it. Some of these properties, they’re hideous,” said Mario Feldhoff.

Rob Goffinet added during debate that “We’ve been vexed long enough as a community with this problem.”