At the last city council meeting we continued the process of passing a number of updates to our bylaws. It is well to note that there are fines attached to a number of the updates, although bylaw officers will not be aggressively going out of their way to enforce the bylaws, as enforcement will probably be complaint driven.
I have always being a promoter of smoke free places in our city, such as amenity areas and transit bus stops, for the health of the public. City council and staff have already had complaints from nearby businesses and the public on people smoking in the posted no smoking areas. Because fines can now be levied, it would be wise for smokers to pay attention to the signs. With smoke free places such as the Lakeside playing fields, an improvement would be to extend it to Rotary Lakeside Beach as there are numerous children there during the summer months.
Fines will also be in place for unkempt yards, which can be a fire hazard, so both bylaw officers and the fire department could raise this issue. There was a long discussion on removal and control of noxious weeds on private property.
I’m not in favour of this part of the bylaw, as there are numerous noxious weeds all over city properties, for example, around the city airport and along John’s Walk. Noxious weeds need to be controlled, but no one should face a fine until the City of Nelson has an aggressive plan to rid city property of noxious weeds.
One of the more controversial bylaws will be the removal of temporary storage shelters such as vehicle shelters during the summer. We have been informed temporary shelters on city right-of-ways will be the first ones under review. It is unfortunate that with lower prices there has been a proliferation of these temporary shelters on the city right-of-ways and private property. It could be difficult to take down and put up these temporary shelters so residents affected may want to consider building a proper carport or garage instead.
Changes to the zoning bylaw will bring more emphasis to increasing density around the city core which will emphasize new houses under construction being secondary-suite ready. As well there have been discussions on criteria for laneway housing, which may not be a good idea, as we have very congested laneways already. Some cities tend to spread out but Nelson by its own geography is somewhat limited by the mountain terrain. Nelson is already congested around the downtown core with limited parking spaces, which is a business concern.
Nelson could need more bylaw officers to cover the city to regulate the current and updated bylaws. Due to the fact that it took a long time to update the older bylaws, our bylaw officers may proceed with education and warnings to begin with before fines are levied. The bylaw updates were long overdue and should bring our city in line with other municipalities.
Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city councillor