MD Resident charged $7,500 for Unsightly Property

Owner warned to clean up several times in two years

The Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville has charged the cost of cleaning up a property* back to a resident for $7,592.55, after years of not complying with a land use bylaw. The property owner received several warnings, over the course of two years, before being issued the fine for unsightly property, explains Director of Public Safety Chris Garner.

In April of 2016, Public Safety officers responded to a complaint of the property. The matter went to court, where the owner was given an extension of August 31st, 2016 to clean up the mess. The deadline was not met by the property owner, which cause MD staff to come and clean up on September 13th. The cost of that clean up, $7,592.55 is now on the property owner to pay and will appear on the owners next tax bill.

“We met with both property owners numerous times and explained what was required of them,” Garner explained to MD Council that the issue has been ongoing since 2015. “The first one, they did the bare minimum amount of work to get to pass at the end the summer of 2015, then right away again over the winter it worked into a very poor state and of course we had to go back in April based on public complaints about the property.”

At the MD Council meeting, on February 22nd, Councillors discussed knowledge of complaints of the property. One neighbour who had moved back to Newfoundland after developing terminal cancer, had complained to a Councillor that they were unable to sell the house due to the messy property next door. There was another case in which the property owner was working on his car and it caught fire, burning down a neighbour’s tree.

The situation escalated to the point where peace officers did not want to attend to the property, because they were allegedly receiving threats from the property owner.  Garner says the estimated cost to the MD, including all the man power used to attempt to enforce the bylaw, is $12,000 – 15,000. “That was a huge amount of our time to deal with that. The amount we spent on legal expenses is not included in that amount, so the MD was on the hook for all our legal expenses.”

*a previous version of this article referred to the cost as a fine. The amount of $7,592.55 has been charged back to the property owner for the cost endured by the MD for the clean-up; it is not a fine.