Qualicum Beach council seeks separate bylaws for property maintenance, noxious weeds

Staff recommends single bylaw to committee of whole

A proposed combined bylaw on property maintenance and noxious weeds, created by town staff as a way to update an old bylaw, was instead sent back to staff to be split into two bylaws.

At council’s March 7 committee of the whole meeting, staff brought forward a proposed rewritten bylaw on property maintenance that would have included addressing noxious weeds such as Scotch broom.

Planning director Luke Sales said the direction for this bylaw came from a council direction last year to bring forward “something that would prohibit Scotch broom.”

Sales said the town’s current property maintenance bylaw is out of date, and instead of creating a new bylaw to address only Scotch broom, staff decided to combine the two.

Coun. Neil Horner, a council advocate for the removal of invasive broom, said while he wanted a separate bylaw, this proposed bylaw seemed positive.

However, as discussions on the bylaw went on, council members expressed a number of concerns relating to property maintenance.

Coun. Anne Skipsey said she thought it was good that a graffiti removal timeline was included, but she thought graffiti should be separated into two categories and graffiti with hate or profanity should have a shorter timeline for cleanup.

“Studies have shown that when markings are left, there’s almost a 100 per cent chance (additional) graffiti marking will be placed in that site or close by, so timing is definitely important,” she said.

Skipsey said she also wondered if chalk art would be considered under graffiti and if it would be in violation of the town’s bylaws.

“I wondered if that might be avoided by talking about permanent or temporary graffiti or art.”

Sales said graffiti mostly referenced vertical structures, whereas chalk art is generally on the ground. He said he wanted to give some thought to Skipsey’s request and come back and return after meeting with staff.

Skipsey asked if the graffiti removal was on a complaint basis, and Sales said it was. Skipsey then referenced the old building supply storeand said no one on council has brought that issue forward, adding she wanted to know how to “go about rectifying graffiti like that building (contains).”

Mayor Teunis Westbroek said that the building is a nuisance property, and CAO Daniel Sailland said town staff is regularly in contact with the owner to let them know about the graffiti issues.

But

Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer took issue with property maintenance being performed on a complaint basis. Luchtmeijer said the property maintenance bylaw should be applied to everyone equally.

“There will still be the issues where things are brought to your attention by complaint, but to suggest that we’re only going to respond on complaint just targets individuals, particularly feuding individuals,” he said.

As the discussions continued, Horner said this was why he wanted a separate bylaw for noxious weeds. He said a separate bylaw would make a simple problem easy to resolve, while the combined bylaw is a “recipe for getting nothing done.”

At the end of the meeting, the committee of the whole directed staff to have the two issues, property maintenance and noxious weeds, split into two bylaws but to still include anything discussed at the March 7 meeting.

Send story tips to: lauren.collins@pqbnews.com

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