Residents have mixed reaction to Community Standards Bylaw
About 100 people attended an open house to discuss the City’s proposed Community Standards Bylaw at Genesis Place, Sept. 24.
Another open house was held Sept. 27 at City hall after press time.
The bylaw, which amalgamates a number of current and new regulations into one document, lays out minimum standards for property maintenance, outside storage, ponding water, recreation vehicles (RVs), noise control, sidewalk clearing and unsightly conditions.
Council gave first reading to the bylaw, which was two years in the making, on June 4 and will revisit it at a public hearing session, Oct. 1.
Maria Hughes, who has lived in Airdrie for about eight years, attended the meeting to discuss concerns about the new rules for RVs that would allow the vehicles to be parked on the front driveway for six months of the year, but would prohibit front-driveway parking throughout the winter months.
It would also prohibit RVs from being parked on the street for more than 72 hours year-round, but would allow them to be parked in the back or side yard year round.
“I don’t agree with it,” said Hughes. “I should be able to have the full use of my driveway. We worked hard, we saved, we bought a house... that should be my choice. It feels like the City is in our business.”
Roger Taylor, who has lived in Airdrie for 30 years and owns a home with back-lane access, agreed.
“If it’s in your property, no matter front, side or back, you should be able to park it wherever you want.”
Taylor said he agreed with the other portions of the bylaw, saying they are a “no-brainer.”
Ten-year resident Lenora Thomas said the bylaw doesn’t go far enough.
“I want to extend it so all vehicles can’t be parked on the street for more than 72 hours,” she said, citing safety, inconvenience and aesthetics as reasons.
“If you have an extra vehicle it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s not interfering with anyone else.”
According to Darryl Poburan, the City’s manager of municipal enforcement, reaction to the bylaw was mixed.
“There are a lot of really good opinions,” he said. “(People are) very, very divided.”
Poburan said the City expected the proposed changes to RV storing to be controversial, adding the open houses were a good opportunity to educate residents about the bylaw and clear up any misunderstandings.
The RV storage changes were prompted by complaints of RVs encroaching on neighbouring properties and sidewalks and decreasing visibility and safety for motorists and pedestrians, said Poburan.
He said several municipalities, including Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton and Cochrane have rules that restrict RV storage.
The bylaw also includes a number of significant changes to noise restrictions, construction waste and exterior maintenance. If approved, bylaw officers will be permitted to ticket motorcyclists and off-road vehicles emitting noise in excess of 92 decibels.
Another section prohibits waste construction bins from being placed on the street unless a $105 permit is purchased. 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.
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.
Poburan said on Oct. 1, he will present council with the idea of complaint-based enforcement for the changes, as there are currently only three municipal enforcement officers dedicated to bylaw infractions.
“We don’t have enough officers to completely enforce (the bylaw),” said Poburan.
Poburan urges residents, whether in favour or opposed to the bylaw, to attend the Oct. 1 public hearing session.
“Come and (share your opinion),” he said. “You will have a better decision (by council) at the end of the day.”