West Kelowna is looking to increase penalties five-fold on residences and properties that require frequent visits from Mounties, bylaw officers and firefighters.
Currently, the city fines the owners of properties where recurrent responses from emergency crews and municipal workers $100 in most cases. On Tuesday night, city council considered increasing penalties for those “nuisance calls” to $500.
“Properties causing significant ongoing nuisances can disrupt entire neighbourhoods. Nuisance properties often negatively affect everyone’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their own property,” reads city staff’s report to council.
Staff said properties typically subject to such fines are “unsightly premises” that garner frequent noise complaints and often house criminal activity.
The fine has remained unchanged since West Kelowna implemented it in 2009 and, as such, has fallen short of fines given in other jurisdictions. In Penticton, nuisance abatement fees are $200 for RCMP or city workers and $400 a call for the fire department. In Kelowna, they’re $250 a call and in Surrey, owners of nuisance properties are fined upwards of $850 per call.
West Kelowna city staff described the increase as “firm but fair” and said $500 represents the average cost of responding to such calls.
“The proposed fee increase is intended to motivate owners to work diligently to obtain compliance promptly, and reduce repeat offenders.”
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