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City looks at fines for boarding houses

Council to add section to community standards bylaw to allow for quicker enforcement, fines

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014 06:00 am

BOARDING HOUSE RULES – Controversy over a quasi boarding house at Gould Place last year has council considering bylaw changes so city staff can react to such situations more quickly.
BOARDING HOUSE RULES – Controversy over a quasi boarding house at Gould Place last year has council considering bylaw changes so city staff can react to such situations more quickly.
File photo

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Those who set up a boarding house in St. Albert in the future could face a $5,000 fine if two bylaw changes go through as planned.

On Monday night city council passed two readings of changes to the land use bylaw and the community standards bylaw – changes that would enshrine the definition of a boarding house.

These changes were prompted by concerns about a boarding house at 3 Gould Place last summer, said city manager Patrick Draper.

The city’s response was in accordance with the city’s approved bylaws, Draper said, but the process took longer than staff and the neighbouring residents would have liked.

“It became apparent that most of our authority was more residing in the land use bylaw,” Draper said.

City solicitor Gene Klenke said the land use bylaw does not normally allow fines.

The proposed changes would put the prohibition of boarding houses into the community standards bylaw to allow for enforcement in a shorter time period, Draper said. A definition of a boarding house would be included as part of the amendments.

The proposed fine is $5,000. Draper said the high amount should serve as a deterrent.

A public hearing was opened and closed on Monday night with no public submissions either in writing or in person.

Council was overall supportive of the bylaw, though some questions were raised about the definition of boarding house. For instance, would renting a four-bedroom house to four university students fall under the definition?

Staff were asked to report back on some of the scenarios raised by council.

“We’re making a statement about what is acceptable in this community by passing this bylaw,” said Coun. Wes Brodhead.

Coun. Sheena Hughes pointed out that people aren’t expecting to live next to a boarding house, and now, if one starts up, city administration will have some tools to address the issue more quickly.

Though council voted unanimously in favour of the first two readings of both proposed amendments, the third and final reading required to change the bylaws did not proceed.

The process was halted by concerns that the proposed changes weren’t posted on the city’s website, even though the nature of the changes doesn’t require such posting.

“I understand that this wasn’t required to go on the city’s website, but just because it’s not required doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put it up,” said Coun. Tim Osborne.

Osborne, Mayor Nolan Crouse and Coun. Gilles Prefontaine all voted against unanimous consent to proceed to third readings, delaying third readings until a later date.


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