Frustrated by council's indecision on Community Standards Bylaw
On Oct. 1, Airdrie City council tabled the controversial Community Standards Bylaw and sent staff back to make a number of amendments to the document.
City residents came out in force protesting the proposed changes to the section of the document governing recreational vehicles and overwhelmingly convinced council that changes to the current rules about the vehicles arenít wanted. (See full story page 1)
As a non-RV owner, I am impartial to whether or not homeowners store their vehicles in their front or back yard. That being said, I do mind when those vehicles hang over sidewalks, decreasing sight lines and causing a danger to pedestrians, especially kids, using the sidewalks. The current bylaw, however, restricts this occurrence as well as if my neighbourís RV imposes on my property, another pet peeve of mine.
Airdrieís current unsightly premises policy is ineffective as there is no fee structure in place, providing no real incentive to restrict dilapidated tent trailers, RVs, cars, trucks and utility trailers from messing up the view on Airdrie streets. The difficulty of enforcement can easily be evidenced by a drive around the city, an exercise that reveals a number of unkempt properties, generally bordered by well-manicured homes.
That is my main issue with the decision Ė or indecision Ė of council after the public hearing.
Granted, residents spoke loudly and clearly about the RV issue, and I am pleased council paid attention to the democratic protest. However, I feel council threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, taking an excellent document and sending it back for staff to make changes without any solid direction.
I wish, instead, that council had made the necessary amendments to the document and given it second and third readings, making it enforceable. And Iíll bet the Cityís municipal enforcement officers do to.
Municipal enforcement receives more than 10,000 complaints every year. Although many are about dogs and traffic, there are also a number about unkempt yards and construction sites, noise and garbage.
According to municipal enforcement, the bylaw, which was more than two years in the making, was motivated by a number of complaints the department received. The proposed document, created with the help of a number of City departments, would have given officers the teeth they need to clean up the city.
Itís frustrating for those residents who put a ton of pride into their homes to live beside someone who doesnít seem to care. It must be equally frustrating for bylaw officers who are unable to do their jobs in a timely fashion, and who are likely the scapegoat for angry residents.
Right now, with all the regulations and warnings, it takes about 90 days to get a property cleaned up in Airdrie. Thatís a whole summer of decreased property values, piles of garbage and two-foot high weeds.
As someone who cares about my community and takes great pride in my home, that is unacceptable.
Like many municipalities, including Rocky View County, which borders the city on all sides, Airdrie is attempting to amalgamate a number of current bylaws into one all-encompassing document.
While I understand having one bylaw may make things more clear for residents, perhaps council should consider separating the controversial sections of the document in order to get the necessary portions passed.
Itís high time the City stepped up to clean up Airdrie and that starts with enforcement. The bylaw would have been a good start to allow common sense rules to be imposed in a timely fashion.