West Kelowna  

West Kelowna jacks up penalties for nuisance properties

Hitting bad neighbours hard

The City of West Kelowna is coming down hard on on people who continually ignore its Good Neighbour Bylaw.

Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to increase the fee charged to those who continually cause complaints about noise, graffiti, panhandling, or have unsightly premises.

Those fees are now set at $75 to $100, however, once the new fee structure is given final approval, it will increase to $500.

The $500 fee, which would be levied on top of any bylaw infraction fines, would be triggered following a third visit for the same infraction over the 12 month period, or a second in 24 hours.

"I fully support moving the fees up considerably, because this is the third time visit," said city CAO Paul Gipps.

"I think we have to get their attention."

Bylaw compliance supervisor Mike Cain told council hitting repeat offenders in the pocketbook is a way of getting their attention.

Cain says over the past decade, the city has served 14 properties with letters saying they have triggered the repeat nuisance calls for service criteria.

"Only in the last couple of years are we finding a couple of properties who are becoming repeat offenders and not getting the message," he said.

That increase is one of the motivating factors behind the higher fee.

"There would be no surprise with this letter," Cain said when asked whether property owners would know the warning was coming.

"Typically, we've had many conversations with the property owner. The letter is formal notification, but we've had those conversations already."

The fee is not a fine, but rather a way in which the city can recoup the cost and time of responding to continuous complaints.

"Typically, there would be a fine and a fee on top of that.

"The fine is for breaking the bylaw, the fee is paying for us having to follow up on a continual basis."

Coun. Rick de Jong supported the new fee structure, but indicated maybe it was a little light, suggesting maybe an $800 fee would serve as a better deterrent.

More West Kelowna News