Morinville looking to set some community standards

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Residents who fight in public, loiter or disturb the peace could find themselves with a stiff fine if a new bylaw coming before Morinville Town Council is passed. So too could property owners who don’t look after their lawns or who release unpleasant odours into their neighbour’s yards.

Morinville Town Council spent part of their May 17 Committee of the Whole meeting discussing and asking questions about a new Community Standards Bylaw administration will bring to council for first reading sometime in June.

Susan MacDonald, Morinville’s director of community services, said Morinville’s current property maintenance bylaw is out dated and missing a number of sections. The new Community Standards Bylaw will update and expand on that document, introducing new regulations to the community while moving some existing regulations from other bylaws to a more appropriate home under the new comprehensive bylaw.

Highlights of the proposed bylaw include identifying the responsibilities on unsightly premises for land owners, occupants, lease holders and inhabitants as well as clarifying resident’s responsibility to tending to and maintaining boulevards adjoining their property. Additionally, the proposed bylaw enhances regulations with respect to nuisances, which would now include offensive odours.

Regulations on unsightly premises include clauses on the length of grass, removal of weeds, clearing or debris, storing of garbage and requirements on maintaining the building itself. The bylaw also carries a section prohibiting appliances from being outside a property within view of neighbours and those passing the property. Additionally, appliances anywhere on the property would not be permitted unless the doors had been removed.

Proposed fines for the improper storage of refrigerators and other appliances would be $100 for a first offence, $200 for subsequent offences.

Under the category of nuisances, residents would be required to “refrain from engaging in any activity or use of their property that results in the production of offensive odours, excessive dust or smoke, or similar conditions which represent a nuisance to adjacent owners or the general public in the area of their property.”

The proposed fine for causing or permitting a nuisance to exist on land occupied by an owner is set at $200 for a first offense, $400 for subsequent offences. If the nuisance is of an odorous nature, that amount would increase to $250 on a first offense, $500 for subsequent offences.

However, causing a figurative stink in public would carry a stiffer penalty than a literal one. Under the proposed bylaw, fighting, failing to disperse when told or disturbing the peace would carry with it a $500 fine, subsequent offences ringing in at $1,000 per occurrence.

Greg Hoffman, Morinville’s director of planning and development, said bylaws from many other communities were consulted in developing the proposed Community Standards Bylaw. He said the finished document has been reviewed by the Town’s Community Peace Officers as well as the RCMP, parties who will be responsible in enforcing the bylaw.

The document will next be presented to Morinville’s legal counsel to examine the wording. It is expected the bylaw will come before council for first reading either at the June 14 or 28 meeting.

The proposed bylaw can be viewed in the May 17 council package.

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7 Comments

  1. This is a good step forward. I would hope that as far as odours are concerned that the fine structure be revised to include comercial as well as residential. Also fees should continue to escalate if the odour is not removed and maintained for a period of time say at least 3 weeks. Otherwise there are those that would gladly pay a static fine.

    Would this bylaw also apply to the construction companies who regularly let garbage blow around in the wind on new homes under construction where the dwelling is not yet a place of residence?

  2. Back when I presented to council only a month or so ago regarding the need for an odour control bylaw specifically to address issues with Champion foods I was assured that measures were being taken that would create a bylaw for the purposes of odour control. To that end I thank our representatives for acting in the communities best interests.

    In fact it was our Mayor who explicity stated that one of the main facets of this upcomming bylaw would be odour control. Indeed since the time that a bylaw was first discussed Champion has made significant moves in planning to clean up the opperation. Proof that the direction that is being taken is a correct one. Even at the previous council meeting it was the Champion representative himself that noted in Europe where local and regional laws are more stringent the odour control solutions are much more advanced.

    Now based on a proposed fine of $500, at approx 250 days of opperating each year, it would mean that the maximum fine that could be impossed would be a mere 125k which is about 1/5 of what an odour control solution might cost for this plant. If the bylaw is not strengthend it might just become the cost of doing business for the plant.

    Please call our councillors and let them know that $500 is not enough penalty for a business that has the capacity to drench the town in the smell of dog food. I would suggest something to the effect of a multiple of the fine each time a fine is issued within one year. IE $500 X number of fines. This would make the fines meaningfull and provide sufficent business case for a multi million dollar business such as Champion to continue to improve their processes.

    If they continue to clean up their business processes and indeed have struck upon a likely solution as the latest mailing indicates then their would be no financial hardship to Champion in any way. If not, it would give them the financial motivation to find a solution.

    I hope this is corrected in the near future and look forward to viewing a revised draft with a stronger fee structure at the next reading.

    Matthew

  3. Interesting to see if this will go as far as to cover noise pollution or if these rules will also apply to the Town itself or will they conveniently contain exemptions and generalized enforcement standards at the discretion of the CAO as does the existing Noise By-Law.

    • As I’m given to understand it, the Community Standards Bylaw takes noise into account; however, the Town of Morinville has a separate bylaw for noise.

  4. Give me a break folks, this town is going to bylaw us to death. How about a few ads on pride of ownership and accountability? And while we are at it, that “welcome to Morinville” smell coming from the sewage plant on 100 Ave east as you enter (or exit)town is nothing to snear at? Does that mean that the Mayor and Councillors are to be fined for not doing their job? I do not see any prioritization going on here at all, just more ways for this town to collect money from the citizens (who already pay more than they should in taxes) and make it seem like they are doing a bang up job of keeping this town viable while in reality it is starting to stink like the sewage plant on 100 Ave east! And Matthew, I’m pretty sure that if you check way back when, the town council of the day was probably tripping over each other trying to get Champion here in the first place! Try living in mining towns or steel towns or pulp and paper towns. I’ve smelled worse! My problem with getting rid of Champion is that then Council will have no choice but to create new bylaws and fine people with long hair or who wear a hat or who do not shop here in Morinville, where does it end?

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