Rimbey town council discussed in length the pros and cons of hiring a bylaw officer at their Monday meeting.
The final consensus was that such an officer is needed.
The discussion was sparked by a letter to the mayor and council from Len and Donna Heilemann who stated their opposition to a bylaw officer.
“We have had bylaw officers in the past and they obviously did not do anything about unsightly yards, trees and alleys or we wouldn’t have this problem now,” the letter states.
The Heilemann’s stated they didn’t feel taxpayers should have to pick up the tab for the few people who do not look after their property.
Coun. Mathew Jaycox said he had chatted with the couple who wrote the letter and explained to them that a bylaw officer does much more than deal with unsightly yards. He suggested that a letter in the Review opposing a bylaw officer may have been misleading.
At its meeting, June 26 council agreed to instruct CAO Lori Hillis to begin the search for a bylaw enforcement officer.
The officer would be required for two to three days per week reflecting up to 1,248 hours per year at a cost of up to $48,000 ($38 per hour).
These amounts reflect the cost of the officer only and do not include the cost of vehicle fuel, maintenance or administrative costs.
At Monday’s meeting, council stood by their original decision, but agreed to consider the option of hiring the officer on a contract basis.
The need for a bylaw officer came to light this year because of the number of complaints about unsightly premises in Rimbey.
The director of public works, Rick Schmidt has been dealing with these issues by sending letters requesting the owners to clean up their yards, but he does not have the authority to issue tickets. He noted many of the people who did not look after their yards were repeat offenders.
“You can write a million letters, but a bylaw officer has more latitude,” said development officer Liz Armitage.
This year complains have been received on an ongoing basis regarding lawns which have not been mowed and properties with excessive weeks.
This is in direct contravention with the town’s nuisance bylaw which states ‘nuisance’ means any use or activity upon any property, which is offensive.
This includes grass and/or weeds in excess of twenty centimeters.
Homeowners need to ensure any weeds or grass on their property is controlled.
Trees need to be trimmed back to the property line.
A peace officer program was suspended in Rimbey in May doe to the lack of billable hours as the Summer Village of Parkland Beach and the Summer Villages near Sylvan Lake terminated their programs, which were operated through the Town of Rimbey.
Despite the complaints about unsightly lawns, Mayor Rick Pankiw commended public works director Rick Schmidt for his efforts at keeping the town neat and tiny. He noted campers from Rocky Mountain House, who were staying at The Nesting Place remarked that the town of Rimbey was clean and well kept.