Inspector Ray Carfantan says a nuisance bylaw could go a long way to help curb problem properties. (Citizen file)

Police push for new nuisance property bylaw in North Cowichan

Bylaw would make landowners financially responsible for emergency calls to nuisance properties

One problem property in North Cowichan alone cost the municipality and emergency services $13,200 over a 10-month period in 2016.

In a report to council, Inspector Ray Carfantan from the North Cowichan RCMP detachment, said the property was connected to 93 calls for service to police and bylaw compliance offers in that time period.

Carfantan said 22 properties in North Cowichan have been singled out for having excessive calls for service, ranging from 13 to 167 calls, last year.

He said the total calls for service to these properties in 2016 was 792, with the majority concerned with mischief, disturbances, noise, family law and mental health issues.

Carfantan said, considering the excessive costs of dealing with these properties, North Cowichan should consider implementing a nuisance property bylaw.

He suggested making the property owners responsible for the costs of excessive emergency calls.

“A nuisance bylaw will provide a means to encourage landlords to have an interest in the persons to whom they rent their property to,” Carfantan said.

“It’s also a means to hold property owners accountable for the criminal or socially unacceptable behaviours that they permit to take place on their properties.”

Many residents of the Cowichan Valley have recently expressed frustration with the authorities’ seeming inability to deal with alleged drug houses and other nuisance properties in their neighbourhoods.

Carfantan said other nearby municipalities, including Nanaimo, have successfully established nuisance property bylaws that finally have some bite, and encouraged North Cowichan to do the same.

The City of Duncan is also in the process of implementing its Good Neighbour Bylaw, which will outline exactly what city officials can do about annoying neighbours once a complaint has been received.

Carfantan said the new level of accountability a nuisance property bylaw will introduce in North Cowichan will translate into reduced calls for service by the police, and subsequent redistribution of the police resources that would normally be invested in these multiple calls for service.

“This will directly translate to a reduction in the cost of police services for the municipality, as well as an increase in public safety for the area residents who are affected in the community,” he said.

Carfantan’s report is scheduled to be tabled at North Cowichan’s next council meeting on May 17.