Penticton mayor puts unsightly properties on notice

Proposed bylaw changes will compel owners to clean up abandoned and vacant lots

  • Feb. 9, 2012 7:00 p.m.

Penticton’s mayor has signalled that brown around town needs to go down, offering a notice of motion Monday that council needs to identify bylaw changes to beautify the city.

Mayor Dan Ashton has directed the development services department to draft up bylaws that would compel owners of brownfield land to clean the area up and make it more appealing by planting vegetation or building amenities.

He also believed the timeline “should be quicker rather than later.”

“It’s long overdue for these things to be made more amenable and buffed up,” he said. “We’re trying to raise the esthetics of Penticton, and these days of just putting a fence up and leaving a pile of earth in there isn’t right.”

Shortly after the election, Ashton began musing about the need to “put the shine back on” the city, buffing it up to its previous lustre. After the city was named the No. 4 holiday destination by Huffington Post, he began making louder rumblings about being ready for the coming tourist season.

Defined as vacant, abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for use, brownfields at times come with issues surrounding contaminated soil due to hazardous waste or pollution.

“As soon as they’re cleaned up, instead of sitting vacant, we would like to see something done with them,” he said. “Common sense says you can make it look better than a construction site, and that’s what we want.”

Ashton said a recent trip to Seattle showed some empty sites that had been spruced up with an eye to esthetics: one empty gas station lot had cedar bushes planted around the edge, with a small playground inside.

“It looks a lot better,” he said. “It’s not an urban garden, it’s an urban park. We should be asking the owners to do that, raise the esthetic level of it.”

He said the site that “stuck in his craw” was the land at the corner of Main Street and Duncan Avenue, currently sitting behind a metal fencing. While a portion of the plaza has been sold, he said, the land has been vacant for too long.

Ashton said that abandoned and derelict homes could also fall under the microscope, as too many boarded up windows and doors have cropped up over the years.

“We heard loud and clear during the election about these abandoned, derelict houses and ever-increasing fenced-off lots,” he said.

“They need to be addressed. This is a heads up to owners: we want these things cleaned up.”

Ashton brought the issue up during the notice of motion portion of Monday’s meeting, which typically generates an agenda item for the next regularly scheduled meeting. A report will be made to council on the issue in the near future.