Thursday, May 14, 2020

Councillor Cunningham renews calls for clean up of unsightly properties

The Spring time ritual of discussing Prince Rupert's
unsightly premises returned to City Council on Monday

It's become as much of a spring ritual as cleaning up your front lawn, but for Councillor Barry Cunningham the lack of action in enforcing municipal bylaw options on unsightly properties is proving to be a frustrating thing.

Mr. Cunningham regularly brings the topic to the attention of his fellow Council members, but as can be seen by that frequency, not much ever seems to get done about making downtown property owners take action towards the clean up.

Monday night, the Council member raised the issue one more time.

"Before this all started, the pandemic, we were going to start bringing people before council or going after people for the Property Maintenance Bylaw and that and I just wonder where we are with that situation. 

I know it's going to be difficult but I see no reason why we can't bring people one meeting at a time or something like that and start cleaning this town up.  

You know there's stuff downtown that should be taken care of and it should be our priority and then after that getting to the residential areas.

It's getting to the point where there's more and more cars, four flat tires, unlicensed and people don't seem to give a care. So I think it's something, I know our bylaw people are busy, but I think it's something we should be looking at"

Neither the Mayor, or the City Manager followed up on his comments with any advice as to what, if any actions the City could take at this time, in order to address the Councillors concerns.

The Property Maintenance Bylaw BL3297, 2010  notes how Council has the authority to regulate and control pollution, nuisances, pests, noxious weeds, unsightly premises, unwholesome or noxious materials, and odors and impose requirements in relation to bylaw enforcement and related matters.

The document provides for much in the way of guidance for property owners on the expectations of city council when it comes to property maintenance.

Though as would seem to be the case as outlined by Mr. Cunningham, it's a section of the Bylaw collection that doesn't seem to get much in the way of consultation, or action on from bylaw enforcement these days.

You can review Mr. Cunningham's commentary from the City's Video Archive from Monday starting at the thirty four minute mark.

A look back at some of his past inquiries on the theme can be explored below:

January 2020 -- Owners of Unsightly properties put on notice, Council set to take up issue of enforcement in 2020
March 2019 -- City of Prince Rupert to take action on Derelict vehicles
June 2018 -- Plans for waterfront eyesore on the mind of Councillor Cunningham
May 2018 -- Lack of civic clean up plans questioned by Councillor Cunningham
March 2018 -- Councillor Cunningham looks to property tax solution to issue of derelict and unsightly properties
May 2017 -- Few options available to Council to force Clean Up of downtown eyesores
February 2017-- A not so inviting vision for tourists, or would be investors to be found in the downtown area

For more notes on Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature here.

A wider overview of City Council themes can be found here.


  1. Good for Mr. Cunningham once again asking for the city to start work on the unsightly properties in our community. He should not have had to ask again. In a January council meeting Bob Long stated to council he is on it. From the North Coast review: January 29th.

    "We intend to come forward probably in the Spring and present to Council a number of locations that are not responding at all, to what I call moral suasion, or letters to smarten up and clean up and then Council will be required then to pass resolutions for us to act and put it on their taxes" -- City Manager Robert Long outlining the challenges in enforcement of property maintenance bylaws in the city"

    Mr. Long was working on this January 27th which is approximately 6 to 7 weeks prior to Covid being front and center. If he had started work on this file the mayor should have called on Mr. Long to give a status report on the progress of the work committed to in January. Bob Long was in attendance at the council meeting by phone.

    In any corporation person has to be named and own the assigned tasks. This gives council someone accountable for the progress on the file. For the mayor not to call on Bob Long to report to Barry on the progress made so far makes the mayor complicit in the inactivity of this file. The mayor talks of transparency, to not get a progress makes his claim of transparency just that talk, no action. Mr. Brain had lots of time have a discussion on city clean up. As far as I know there is no requirement council meetings have to end in under an hour. He does not seem interested in doing the day to day work that is required for oversite of the city. I would certainly like to see Barry ask the city at the next council meeting for the 6 weeks on work done on the clean up file be reported to council. Along with recommendations for action.

  2. It's good that councillor Cunningham has raised this issue, but I doubt that it's possible "to start bringing people before council" as if it is a court. Law enforcement is not a function of the legislative body. It's for the bylaw officer(s) (and of course in many areas the police) and ultimately the courts to enforce laws, not elected politicians.

  3. ... that being said, I agree that the mayor and council should be questioning management about progress (case loads, numbers of complaints, inquiries, investigations, warnings, fines etc) and also whether the city has enough resources to enforce its bylaws. At the previous meeting the council did not even seem to know how many bylaw officers it has. Whether the bylaw officer(s) is(are) doing anything to support the provincial health officers during the state of emergency should also be discussed as a resourcing issue.

  4. “City of Prince Rupert Property Maintenance Bylaw No. 3297, 2010”. The preceding can be found on the city website. It gives the city power to act on unsightly premises. Sadly there has been no action on this. Nothing is going to fix a problem until it is dealt with. Even some action would be a start. There becomes a perception why should I clean up no one else does.