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RDOS will ask judge to force cleanup of unsightly property
Nearly six years after first receiving a complaint about a rural property with dozens of derelict vehicles on it, a local government will now begin legal action to try to force a cleanup.
Bylaw officers from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen suspect an auto salvage operation is being run at the Tucelnuit Road site just north of Oliver, in contravention of a bylaw that states no more than two derelict vehicles are permitted on such properties.
The RDOS board heard last week that 21 vehicles were spotted there in February, down from 50 when the first count was conducted in 2008, and that fines and mediation have not produced a resolution. Directors voted unanimously to ask a judge for help.
“The timeline is absurd,” said Allan Patton, the director for rural Oliver.
“It’s extremely frustrating, especially when the environment is really put at risk, and that’s what’s happened.”
Patton said the outstanding fines against the property owner total between $500 and $1,000.
Penticton Director Judy Sentes suggested the RDOS has played nice for too long.
“I think sometimes when we have bylaws in place and we try to do the compassionate thing or look for resolution in a mediated role, I think we get taken advantage of. This is one of those cases,” she said.
“Maybe in order to grab peoples’ attention to get rid of some of these blights on our landscape there has to be more of a consequence.”
However, RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell said judges require a deliberate, even-handed approach to bylaw enforcement before they’ll step in.
“What we found when we get into court is judges do have a lot of patience and they insist on a history of a municipality trying to work with somebody who’s not conforming with a bylaw,” he said, which includes “progressive discipline” like written warnings before fines.
“You better have done all of that before you get into court or the judge will just send it back.”
Newell estimated it will take a year and $10,000 to obtain a court order to have the owner clean up the property in question, which is 1.2 hectares and features a house and several outbuildings.
The property owner did not return a call for comment.