Neighbours from hell

Campbell River city council holds public hearing into changing public nuisance bylaw

Bill Tilbury said he lives next door to the “neighbours from hell” and the city has not been particularly helpful in resolving his situation.

“The house next door to me is a health hazard, it’s a disgrace. In fact it’s a slum, there’s no other way to put it,” Tilbury said, describing his neighbour’s yard which is often full of old furniture, bags of garbage, old food, and two incessantly barking dogs.

Tilbury made the comments at city council’s public hearing into changing the city’s public nuisance bylaw Tuesday. The hearing attracted a few unhappy neighbours

“I’ve called city hall five times,” Tilbury said. “When (bylaw officer) Karl Read comes around they do a 15-minute clean up, put it in bags on the property (then) the crows come, rip it open and the rats get into it. It’s not conducive to pleasant living.”

City Clerk Peter Wipper promised Tilbury he would get in touch with him the next day to find a solution.

Like Tilbury, Campbell River resident Ken Van de Burgt appealed to council for help with noises he says come from nearby hot tubs and heat pumps used by nearby businesses and a school.

“I’ve heard noises from all of these sources at various times in my house,” said Van de Burgt who lives in a wood frame house. “The equipment generates low frequency total noise that penetrates the walls.”

Van de Burgt said he recently made a noise complaint but the bylaw officer did not resolve the problem because he did not visit Van de Burgt’s home to hear the noise and measure the noise level from his home or consider how far low frequency noise travels.

Van de Burgt did have some advice for council in amending its public nuisance bylaw.

“There needs to be special regulations of hot tubs and heat pumps for hours of operation and for installation including a permitting and inspecting process before they get installed,” he said.

Campbell River resident Eric Carlson said it’s beyond time council updates its nuisance policies and steps up enforcement.

“My first presentation (to council) 15 years ago was about all this stuff. Then I made a second presentation and I see it’s still going on today and I’m just scratching my head and wondering ‘what is going on here?’” Carlson said. “I don’t think there’s enough teeth to our bylaws, I think that people in Campbell River need a wake up call. I think we need to have stronger enforcement. We’re talking about rules here and rules have to be adhered to.”

Resident Darlyne Shane advised council to look to Penticton and Maple Ridge for help with dealing with public nuisances – in particular, vacant buildings.

Shane said the bylaws require all openings on a vacant building to be in good repair and locked or covered with plywood that is of a specified thickness. The plywood then must be painted with two coats of white paint.

Coun. Andy Adams took Shane’s presentation to heart and recommended that the city’s two commissions consider adding a piece of Penticton’s bylaw as a preamble to Campbell River’s public nuisance bylaw. Penticton “strives to encourage good relations between neighbours” and the council “endeavours to promote civic responsibility.”

Adams said the city should also incorporae a vacant building registry and provisions for locking up vacant buildings, similar to Maple Ridge and Penticton’s.

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