Unsightly properties annoy residents

Author Esther Darlington MacDonald hears from other residents who are just as annoyed over unsightly premises.

Dear Editor

The reponse to my Letter to the Editor in the Nov. 8 issue regarding enforcement of village by-laws, particularly the one relating to unsightly premises, certainly received some feedback these past weeks.

I’ve been approached downtown or have been called by several or more persons saying they appreciated my letter in the Nov. 8 issue of The Journal. It seems Tingley Street is not the only street in Ashcroft that has an eyesore. Well, we all know that.

What we don’t understand is why a by-law on the books for years has not been enforced?

Either you have the power to enforce a  by-law, or you don’t. In this case, the Village has the power to do what the by-law says it can and will do.  Or, you have decided to turn a blind eye on the issue, despite the complaints.

If some residents choose to turn their property into a junk yard, i.e. a storage place for all kinds of material. If there is no pride of place or willingness to improve the outside appearance, where can the line be drawn?

My contention is. The line has already been drawn.  And for some years back. The professionalism that drew up the by-law detailed the intent quite graphically. There was no ambiguity at all in the by-law that left it open to interpretation.  And, all by-laws are public information.

Is it not time, in view of the obvious efforts of a dedicated group in town to beautify and enhance, as well as all those residents who have taken the time and energy to make their properties attractive, to grow up around the by-laws passed by previous administrations? Surely, the time and thought given to the by-laws, and in particular, the Unsightly Premises By-law has not been wasted?

The streets and avenues of other towns in the Okanagan have become wholesome throughout. I think of Oliver, Osoyoos, and other communities in the Kootenays.

The knapweed infestation in and around Ashcroft has been allowed to grow unfettered.  It is a noxious weed that should never have been allowed to grow as it has been. It is particularly virulent in this region. Unsightly premises are richly endowed with weeds and litter. These are fire hazards. No mistake about it. Weeds as dry as tinder only need a spark to fire up, thereby threatening the properties adjacent.

Several persons, including former residents, have expressed their disappointment in the changlessness of the village. “They are trying” remarked one. But it was clearly obvious, that we were not trying hard enough. One resident who had been away for some years returned to find little if anything had changed in Ashcroft.

We need an administration that will see the village as a whole. Aim for the best possible appearance not just in selected areas.

Ashcroft has some beautiful parks. Parks are labor intensive to maintain. No doubt. But the intent of councils to build the parks, that is, the intent of former administrations, was surely the best possible vision.

Let’s carry out that vision to the streets and avenues. It should not be possible to allow residents, no matter how long their residency, to ignore the by-laws. These persons must move with the times. And newer residents who knowingly or unknowingly flout the by-laws, should be gone after to clean up their act. We owe it to our former councillors and mayors.

Esther Darlington MacDonald

Ashcroft

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