Original Published 05:00 Apr 20, 2022

By Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The process from complaint to resolution for unsightly property infractions was discussed during the regular Tuesday, April 5 Wheatland County council meeting, following a request from Division 1 Councillor Shannon Laprise.

 Councillor Laprise noted there were concerns from Cluny ratepayers about ongoing unsightly property concerns in the hamlet with no apparent resolution to date.

 “I know there’s a process and our (Unsightly Property) bylaw covers that, but it feels like it’s not getting resolved to the level our county residents are content with,” Laprise said. 

 Senior Peace Officer Kris Permann shared, while cases are immediately assigned as they come in, enforcement proceedings cannot go ahead right away. Officers must first conduct an inspection of the property, and these must be conducted off-property or with permission from the landowner to allow entry.

 If an inspection cannot be conducted off-property, a Notice of Entry may be issued giving a date and time an officer will enter the property for inspection. 

 However, if the property owner refuses entry, the next proceeding is to gain an injunction through the Court of Queen’s Bench, and this process can take anywhere from weeks to months.

 Even once permission has been granted, the officer must specifically catalogue everything required to bring the property back to a level of compliance.

 In most cases, Bylaw Officers will try to work with the resident or property owner toward voluntary compliance; if this can be achieved they will enter into a verbal agreement to bring the property to compliance before proceeding with the next steps-a warning letter or remedial order.

 Officer Permann noted about 90 per cent of complaints received are for overgrown grass and weeds. Landscapers can be brought in to bring the property to compliance, but large-scale property clean-up is “a little more complicated” and requires carefully detailed cataloguing and item storage.

 “Just because they’re not seeing anything happening doesn’t mean there are not things going on behind the scenes,” Officer Permann stated, adding he is currently working on two unsightly property cases that have been ongoing for four and seven years.

This item reprinted with permission from The Drumheller Mail, Drumheller, Alberta