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Parksville council declares property ‘hazardous’

Homeowners directed to bring into compliance
Photo by City of Parksville bylaw taken in August 2022. (City of Parksville council agenda)

A property on Seaway Drive in Parksville has been declared a nuisance by the City of Parksville. Owners have been given 45 days to clean up the property or the city will hire a contractor to do it and charge the cost back to the owners.

The City of Parksville has called the property at 1460 Seaway Drive “unsightly” and referred to it as “hazardous” and “a nuisance,” and directed its owners to undertake remedial action. Council heard a report from Amanda Weeks, the city’s manager of administrative services that described the property as including “makeshift structures and hazardously erected piles of debris.”

Weeks’ report also noted “derelict vehicles,” “discarded household appliances” and “tarp-covered structures” and included photos of the property. It also mentioned the property has been a source of complaints dating back to 2019 for “a variety of bylaw offences.”

The homeowners, a husband and wife, appeared before council on Jan. 16 to dispute several points in the complaint, claiming that most of the items on their property had intended uses. The couple spoke at length before council, ignoring repeated requests to stick to the point and then to leave the podium, forcing acting chair Mary Beil to call a brief recess partway through the meeting.

“There is no garbage stored on our property,” said the husband. He maintained the vehicles on the property are not derelict and said they are insured. He added the tarps cover new appliances, which must be stored in the front yard because there is no room behind the house, which he said lacks a backyard because of a steep cliff down to the ocean. He said pieces of wood are being used to burn as a heat source within the house.

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Coun. Amit Gaur recalled visiting the property while campaigning in the fall and said at the time he was concerned he would injure himself if he attempted to walk up the property to knock on the door.

Beil also said while working as a census taker and then later campaigning in the neighbourhood she “noted that property and I would agree with that term ‘hazardly erected piles.’ I had to be very careful and cautious where I stepped,” she added.

The homeowners spent more than 40 minutes disputing the letter from the bylaw department. They claimed they were being unfairly targeted by one of their neighbours, who they identified as Parksville mayor Doug O’Brien. O’Brien does own a home on Seaway Drive, however Beil told the owners several times that the action being taken against their property originated from the bylaw department and not from any member of city council.

O’Brien did not attend the Jan. 16 council meeting and was not part of the discussion.

“You have a very different perspective on this, as opposed to our bylaw officer, who has gone to the premises,” Beil said. “The only reason it’s brought before council is that these steps have been taken, due process has been followed and it does meet the criteria of unsightly.”

Coun. Adam Fras said he agreed the property should be cleaned up, but did not agree with the motion’s wording; his was the lone dissenting voice.

“I’m not so much in agreement in saying that it’s unsafe conditions,” he said. “It’s not that I have any information from the fire department saying these are fire hazards, although if I was a firefighter responding to the scene there, it would be a lot of stuff to have to navigate through.”

Fras also questioned who would determine what is garbage and what has value, if the property owners did not clean up themselves and a contractor was sent out.

Weeks said bylaw would work with the homeowners and monitor their progress.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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