Empty buildings and derelict structures in the downtown retail area have been the topic of discussion at many Town of Elk Point meetings, so Council has revised its “Unsightly Premises Bylaw.”
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Town of Elk Point, Ken Gwozdz said the bylaw is being updated to align with the town’s strategic priorities.
“The initiative came from Council after hearing from the public and setting their strategic priorities in September. Dealing with unsightly properties and enforcing bylaws was high on the list of priorities,” explained the CAO.
In the revised bylaw unsightly properties will include residential, industrial and downtown businesses. Gwozdz said there was no property in particular that sparked the desire for the bylaw to be updated but rather the town wants to ensure it is attractive to potential businesses.
“If someone new moves to town and they want to open up shop, we want to make sure the buildings downtown are kept up and available for them,” explained Gwozdz.
The town will work with property owners to ensure their property is kept. “Myself, a safety officer and the bylaw officer will meet with the owner and go over what can be done. We want to make sure the structure is safe, that there are no broken glass or windows, garbage or broken steps.”
If the owner has no plans to upkeep the property the town will encourage the owner to sell or tear down. There are a series of fines that can be applied to property owners that are unwilling to adbid by the bylaw.
Gwozdz stated that he will be presented an idea to Council at their March 26th meeting regarding a rebate program that had worked well for other communities in cleaning up their downtown core.
Additional bylaw information
First reading was given at the March 11 regular meeting, and a notice has been posted on the Town website and Facebook page. The public is invited to provide suggestions or feedback regarding the bylaw before the April 8 meeting.
Changes of note include definitions of “Reasonable State of Repair” and “State of Disrepair.” “Reasonable State of Repair” is defined as “the condition of being structurally sound, free from damage, free from rot or other deterioration, and/or safe for its intended use.”
“State of Disrepair” means “significant deterioration of buildings, structures, or improvements, or portions of buildings, structures or improvements; broken or missing windows, siding, shingles, shutters, eaves, or other building material; or significant fading, chipping or peeling of painted areas of buildings, structures, or improvements on property.”
The draft bylaw places on owners the responsibility to demolish and remove derelict buildings from their property. The bylaw requires buildings in a reasonable state of repair to “be restored to a useable and safe condition” in accordance with safety codes and any required permits.