Fifteen nuisance properties were torn down by the city of Abbotsford in 2010.
The properties are usually abandoned buildings that create safety hazards, are often used for criminal activity such as drug use, are unsightly and are subject to vandalism, graffiti, dumping, and even as hiding places for stolen property.
In the past, buildings like these were usually boarded up. However, this year, the city took a tougher, more proactive stand, and tore down the “eyesores.”
“It may seem a little Draconian, but when you start to look at the state of these so-called houses, you can see that they are not fit to live in,” said Abbotsford Mayor George Peary.
One of the homes was the subject of more than 90 police calls in less than a year.
The process does not represent a cost to the city, as the landlords either destroys the homes themselves or pay the bill for the city to do it.
The elimination of nuisance properties is just one success story for Abbotsford’s bylaw enforcement team.
“Overall it’s been a pretty good year,” Gordon Ferguson told council on Monday.
Ferguson, the manager of bylaw enforcement, said officers created 3,211 general investigation files and 533 Good Neighbour Project files in 2010.
Of the general files, 1,223 were nuisance complaints, which can be anything from dumping trash to strange odours or even squatters. Other files include 519 parking violations, 458 zoning infractions and 95 noise complaints.
The 533 Good Neighbour Project files fell into four categories – 184 unsightly yards, 137 zoning violations, 130 parking violations and 82 garbage build up.
The project began in 2010 with a focus on cleaning up untidy yards to improve the look of neighbourhoods.
While more than 3,700 files were created, not every incident required ticketing.
According to Ferguson, bylaw officers issued 1,703 parking tickets and 465 tickets for various other offences. An additional 658 parking tickets were issued in downtown Abbotsford through the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association’s ambassador – an employee of the ADBA who has permission from the city to write tickets only in the downtown core.
Forty-seven safety inspections were performed in 2010 and 45 of the homes inspected were in violation (43 marijuana grow-ops and two meth labs) of the city’s controlled Substance Property Bylaw.
Approximately $128,000 in ticket fines were collected in 2010, about 25 per cent of the total expenses. However, fees collected under the Controlled Substance Property Bylaw, which is separate from general ticketing, reached $250,000, plus $33,000 in fines. The cost of that program was $252,000.
Abbotsford’s bylaw enforcement team consists of one manager, six bylaw officers and two clerks.