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.