The District of Houston is continuing its efforts to improve the look of the community and to regulate anti-social behaviour by giving first reading to a nuisance bylaw.
First reading, given at council’s Feb. 2 meeting, sets the stage for debate within council and for residents to comment on its intended provisions leading to council’s contemplation of enacting those provisions.
“Under this proposed bylaw there is a general prohibition against all types of nuisances, which is defined as something that interferes with another person’s use, enjoyment, and comfort of their own property,” a briefing memo to council outlines.
The bylaw is intended to replace earlier bylaws covering nuisances and unsightly properties which were repealed in 2020. And it lays out nuisance abatement fees.
Those found creating a nuisance will be subject to tickets and, potentially, prosecution.
Nuisances listed include the prohibiting unsightly premises, allowing discarded materials to accumulate on properties, allowing vegetation to overgrow and allowing derelict vehicles to accumulate.
Noise is defined as any sound “which is is liable to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of individuals or the public …..”
A list of prohibited public nuisances on public property includes smoking cannabis or tobacco, placing graffiti, fighting, urinating, defecating and littering.
“Council could identify other behaviours that they would like to specifically target if deemed necessary,” the briefing memo stated.
The intended bylaw’s nuisance abatement fees are to cover staff time, vehicle usage and the actual cost of dealing with a nuisance. The staff time is set at a $50 flat rate plus the actual cost of the dealing with the nuisance and vehicle usage, with a 10 per cent surcharge added to the latter two costs.
Repeat nuisance call fees are set at $30.
Noise exemptions, such as noise from construction, can be requested at a processing fee of $30.
As for ticket costs for a nuisance itself, all but several will draw a fine of $150. That includes smoking, littering, having discarded materials at a premises, having a derelict fence and being noisy for longer than 30 minutes.
But obstructing an authorized official as designated through the bylaw will cost $1,000.