Are you neighbourly?

Are you neighbourly?


Town of Oliver logoMind your own damn business.

That’s what some people would say when asked, “What makes a good neighbour?”

But the Town is hoping that residents develop a different attitude after seeing what’s in Good Neighbour Bylaw 1357.

The draft ordinance combines several bylaws into one, including new laws pertaining to panhandling, vacant buildings and repeat nuisance calls.

“I hope this new bylaw will give everyone one document that outlines their responsibilities and their expectations for others in living together as good neighbours in Oliver,” said Town Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger.

He noted that chronic and frivolous complaints are dealt with in the new bylaw, and it is hoped this will lead to fewer complaints.

The new bylaw addresses regulations pertaining to explosives and fireworks, firearms and bows, health, littering, noise, and property maintenance.

Corporate Officer Cathy Cowan said the new sections on panhandling, vacant buildings and repeat nuisance calls are being introduced as a result of enforcement issues.

Under health regulations, nobody can permit or cause water to collect or accumulate resulting in the breeding of mosquitoes that may spread the West Nile virus.

Under littering, nobody is permitted to post, affix or distribute any bill, poster, notice or advertisement on any public property for longer than 48 hours (without written permission from the Town).

The new panhandling regulation prohibits anyone from panhandling within 10 metres of a bank entrance, automated teller machine, and the entrance to any liquor, wine and beer store.

Nobody can panhandle in such a way that impedes anyone from entering a place of business. And nobody can sit or lie on a street for the purpose of panhandling.

Under property maintenance in commercial areas, every owner must sweep the sidewalk in front of (and adjacent) their property and remove filth, leaves, rubbish and discarded materials no later than 10 a.m. each day.

No owner of real property can allow grass or weeds to exceed a height of 15 centimetres (better get out your tape measure). This applies to boulevards too.

Where property contains two acres or more and is assessed as farm land, accumulation of stored materials is not considered unsightly. However, these materials must not be stored less than 22 metres from any highway, and must be screened from view by a fence or hedge.

If the RCMP, bylaw enforcement officer or Town official is required to respond to a property for more than one nuisance call within 24 hours, or more than three within 12 months, the owner is liable to pay an “excessive nuisance abatement” fee.

Every owner of a vacant building must maintain $2 million in liability insurance and obtain a vacant building registration permit.

No owner can allow a building (for human occupancy, industrial or commercial use) to stand vacant for more than 60 days unless: the building has an active building permit for repair or rehabilitation; the building does not contribute to blight, is ready for occupancy and is actively being offered for sale or rent; and a building official determines that it is not a nuisance or hazardous.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said the proposed bylaw reads as a “common sense approach” in many ways.

“Conflict with neighbours is often difficult. I often think that if people would try to think of what they would like to expect of their neighbours, then perhaps it would help model their own behaviour.”

Hovanes said he has been approached by neighbours in conflict.

“I have shared with them that no amount of bylaw enforcement or court action will make you better neighbours. You either figure out a working relationship or eventually one or two ‘for sale’ signs go up.”

Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle