By Lyonel Doherty
The owner of a previously messy property in downtown Oliver is disputing the cleanup bill charged by the Town.
But on Monday, council didn’t show any sympathy for the absentee owner of 480 Bank Avenue (former pawn shop site) that received several complaints about its unsightliness last year.
The Town enforced the bylaw by having contractors clean up the property and then billing the owner $6,666.45 for the job.
The owner, who is not being identified by the Town, said the bill should not have been more than $1,500 as previously discussed. Therefore, he wants the Town to review and correct the invoice.
But Town staff explained that the Good Neighbour Bylaw stipulates that all costs of property cleanup are the responsibility of the property owner.
Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said staff did initially agree with the property owner on a lower cost. But circumstances changed. She noted that the first contractor stopped work after discovering hazardous material (reportedly hypodermic needles) on site.
Vaykovich said another contractor was subsequently hired to deal with the material, which was quite costly to remove and dispose of at the landfill.
“When he (property owner) received the invoice, he became unhappy,” she told council.
Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said the bill would have been a lot more if not for one individual who recycled some of the material found on site.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said he didn’t support the request to reduce the fee.
“That’s what it cost to clean it up . . . bylaw enforcement comes at a cost.”
The mayor also noted that a significant amount of staff time was dedicated to this issue.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said the landlord is not a local resident.
“The reason we have property management companies is to look after and screen people who move in. The owner chose not to do that.”
Schwartzenberger said the property’s unsightliness became so severe that the Town had to clean it up.
Oliver RCMP previously stated they were involved in ongoing investigations with the former tenants, whom police spoke to on a regular basis.