City of Merritt Councillor Tony Luck looks to renew Merrittonian’s sense of community pride by finding ways to incentivize upkeep and tidiness of properties.

Luck’s recent motion asking that council direct staff to investigate and report back on increased enforcement of unsightly properties, exclusive of the flood-zone, was defeated in a 4-2 vote at the April 5, 2022 regular council meeting. He says this was disappointing, and looked to clarify the intent of his motion.

“The idea was to have staff come back with a report on how we could deal with some of these problem properties. We don’t want to be real mean about it or anything like that, but I think the community is at a point now where we want to clean up,” said Luck. “We know there’s a few industrial and commercial properties we’ve been struggling with for a while to clean up.”

Broken-down vehicles, washing machines, and household garbage are among the problem items Luck has seen while out in the community. He says that it’s a matter of incentivizing problem properties.

“I think it’s the overall pride in our community. Let’s work with a timeline, let’s work with some incentive for these people to do some of these things.”

Luck’s proposed report excluded the flood inundation zone, where recovery efforts are still ongoing. Household and building garbage, as well as silt and dirt, are still a common sight as residents work to restore their properties after November’s flooding event.

“Wow, I guess we should pull this motion,” joked Luck, referencing the heavily damaged state of the City’s public works yard on Quilchena Avenue and Main Street.

“We established a program and got it cleaned up. As a City, we need to set that example as well. I’m not trying to identify any one person or company, it’s for everybody. That includes the City as well. We want to make sure everybody is on board.”

Under the City’s current “Good Neighbour Bylaw,” upon discovery of an unsightly premise, bylaw enforcement will send a photo of the property and a letter requesting clean up to the property owner. If the property has not been up to standard by the date stated in the letter, the City may undertake the work required and the owner of the property will be responsible for the cost, plus a 15 percent administrative fee. According to Luck, the current methods don’t adequately deal with problem properties.

“We do have a bylaw, but basically it lacks teeth.”

Luck suggests that the City learns from nearby communities who have successfully addressed their issues with unsightly properties, and worries about the time and resources being unnecessarily expended under current procedures.

“The end point is we want a cleaner community.”