Unsightly premises not to be tolerated
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 06:00 am
Neighbours are neighbours, right? Everyone reading this newspaper very likely at some time had a bad experience with a neighbour.
However, some residents of an Erin Ridge neighbourhood are having a rather unpleasant situation with a neighbour.
Several undeveloped lots on Erin Ridge Drive are causing consternation, not just because they’ve been left for five or six years, but because they’re unsightly and, some neighbours say, they’re a danger because of construction materials and industrial traffic driving to and fro.
Unsightly premises bylaws are exceedingly common, and exist in virtually every municipality and with good reason. No one wants to see a refrigerator in a front yard, an abandoned car rusting away, soft-shelled garages and unfinished houses with no siding or paint. In St. Albert unsightly premises are relatively rare, but when they show up they are handled under the community standards bylaw.
The bylaw says people shall not cause or permit a nuisance on land they own or occupy. Nuisance, in respect to land, "means a condition that, in the opinion of a Peace Officer, indicates a serious disregard for general maintenance and upkeep, whether or not the condition is detrimental to the surrounding area."
It also includes no piling up of stuff, i.e. construction material, machinery, garbage, vehicle parts, household goods, no loose litter, broken down cars, etc., no putting a boat or RV/trailer in the front yard on anything that's not a "non-hard surfaced area," no smelly or messy compost heaps, grass/weeds no higher than 15 centimetres, property shouldn't produce excessive dust, dirt, or offensive odours, no couch on your lawn, no piling up organic waste, no excessively damaged or "non structurally sound" fence or retaining walls bordering city property and no vegetation that obstructs a sidewalk, interferes with public work or impairs traffic safety.
Recently, the city cracked down on a group of friends looking for a lost dog in the neighbourhood, stating the litter bylaw didn’t allow for the notices to be posted on public property.
Yet apparently it’s acceptable for vacant lots to look like industrial park storage areas for years at a time. In all fairness, neighbours need to be tolerant of construction in a growing, prosperous city like St. Albert. Sometimes, construction materials, bundles of shingles and some vehicles are parked for a few weeks, even over the winter, on some vacant lots. Not ideal, but the construction industry creates a lot of jobs and pays a lot of taxes. The community should make a sacrifice and be tolerant.
It's not intolerant, however, to demand action on something of this scale. According to neighbours, this situation has been going on for five to six years.
If anything's intolerable; it's that the city doesn't use the same bylaw that allows it to strip a poster from a light standard to remedy a much worse situation in Erin Ridge.