Council considers Community Standards Bylaw
Airdrie City council gave first reading to the Community Standards Bylaw, June 4.
The bylaw, which amalgamates a number of regulations into one document, lays out minimum standards for property maintenance, outside storage, ponding water, recreation vehicles, noise control, sidewalk clearing and unsightly conditions.
“Working for the City for 20 years, I have seen a lot of things that need to change,” said Darryl Poburan, of Airdrie’s municipal enforcement department. “We want to create a bylaw that meets the needs of our residents.”
The bylaw, which has been two years in the making, was created by City staff from several departments including planning, building inspections, municipal enforcement and legislative services.
It includes a number of significant changes to noise restrictions, construction waste, recreational vehicle storage and exterior maintenance.
If approved, bylaw officers will be permitted to ticket motorcyclists and off-road vehicles emitting noise in excess of 92 decibels.
Mayor Peter Brown expressed concern about the noise portion of the bylaw, saying he wasn’t sure the majority of Airdronians knew about the proposed changes.
“I would say 90 per cent of the motorbikes (in Airdrie) would be higher than your numbers,” he said. “I’m not sure we have connected with the majority of the residents.”
Poburan said a recent crackdown in Calgary revealed the vast majority of motorbikes would meet the standards, adding he is “very comfortable with the bylaw.”
The bylaw also includes a section that prohibits recreational vehicles from being parked in front driveways.
Several aldermen expressed concern about how residents would react to the change.
“To all of a sudden say you can’t put them in your yard, we will get a big pushback,” said Alderman Allan Hunter. “The yelling and screaming will come when people get their first fine.”
Another section prohibits waste construction bins from being placed on the street unless a $105 permit is purchased. The change addresses a concern that residents have been complaining about for many years, according to Poburan. “It becomes a safety issue, a parking issue,” he said.
“Trying to get an ambulance or truck in there… people can’t get through,” he said. “The safety issue is a big concern for residents.”
Also included in the bylaw is a proposal to change sidewalk-clearing standards from 48 hours to 24 hours after a snowstorm.
If approved, changes to the Untidy and Unsightly Conditions Bylaw would allow enforcement officers to clean up messy properties, fences and outdoor structures within 21 days, far less than the three months it can currently take.
Staff had requested the bylaw be brought back for consideration at the next City council meeting. However, council voted to put off a decision until October to gain more public input.
“I think it is extremely important we give enough opportunity for input,” said Alderman Kelly Hegg. “My preference is that we give this some time.”
Deputy Mayor Murray Buchanan agreed.
“I believe there will be concerns,” he said. “These are fairly major changes for our builders, citizens, RV owners.”
Poburan said City staff will host more open houses before bringing the bylaw back to council on Oct. 1. The meeting will also include a public input session.
“Council will then decide whether there is reason to change the bylaw or they will give it second or third reading,” he said, adding the sooner the bylaw is passed, the better.
The City hosted an open house on May 10 to allow residents to provide input into the Community Standards Bylaw. According to Poburan, 20 people attended and the feedback was mostly positive.
“To push this off until October is a little disappointing,” he said. “We have a lot of residents that want this quick.”
If approved, the City’s bylaw officers will enforce the new standards. Last year, municipal enforcement received 11,000 complaints including dog, traffic, unsightly premises and noise concerns. In 2009 and 2010, it received 9,000, according to Poburan.