Summerside gets tough on unsightly properties

·2 min read
The City of Summerside, P.E.I. is looking at ways to deal with a handful of unsightly properties, including increasing tax rates for properties deemed unsightly.  (Google Street View - image credit)
The City of Summerside, P.E.I. is looking at ways to deal with a handful of unsightly properties, including increasing tax rates for properties deemed unsightly. (Google Street View - image credit)

The City of Summerside, P.E.I. is looking at ways to deal with a handful of unsightly properties, including increasing tax rates for properties deemed unsightly.

Summerside councillor Carrie Adams, who chairs the city's policy and bylaw review committee, says the city would prefer to work with landowners to get a property cleaned up.

But Adams said if the property owner is unable or unwilling to do that, the current bylaws have no teeth to allow the city to take action.

The city doesn't have a bylaw enforcement officer either, so the task of dealing with unsightly properties falls to city staff and police.

"In most cases when a police officer or city staff member knocks on somebody's door and tells them the concern of the neighbours, most times they are more than happy and obliged and get things cleaned up to the best of their ability," said Adams.

'I, for one, am running out of patience'

During the monthly council meeting Monday the city unanimously moved a motion to clean up a property on Water Street in the city's downtown.

Sarah MacMillan/CBC
Sarah MacMillan/CBC

The city will clean up the property and send the bill to the owner.

If the property owner doesn't pay the bill, a lien will be put on the property.

Summerside councillor Cory Snow said there is only a small number of unsightly properties in the city but they are in prime locations, which has prompted a lot of complaints from neighbouring residents.

Snow said he believes the city's bylaw already has the teeth it needs, the city just needs to start getting tough with those who won't clean up their properties.

"I, for one, am running out of patience to be quite frank with some of these ongoing issues that continue to drag on and drag on," said Snow.

'We're still willing to work with the person'

"There comes a point in time where we have to decide what the image of our city is and take a stand for our residents because ultimately that's the ones we hear it from."

Brian Higgins/CBC
Brian Higgins/CBC

City staff plan to bring some proposed changes to the unsightly premises bylaw to the monthly meeting in August. The city also continues to work to hire a bylaw enforcement officer,

Adams said the downtown property will be a test case for the city. She said city councillors will be looking for feedback from city staff and police services as they work to get that property cleaned up.

"We're still willing to work with the person," said Adams.

"It's not like we're shutting that door altogether. But we really need to put our foot down."

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