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New City contract position would focus on enforcing property standards

Coun. George Maroosis wondered if adding the new property standards position meant he 'could look forward to the corner of Seventh Avenue and Cassells Street being fixed up?'
2015 10 30 halloween seguin house on cassells turl
File photo of Seguin house at the corner of Seventh and Cassells, in North Bay.

The City of North Bay could soon have another tool to better enforce its property standards by-law.

On the heels of approving an incentive for property owners focused on providing rebates for the landfill tipping fees associated with demolishing and redeveloping derelict and vacant buildings, discussion surrounding property standards has seeped into the 2021 operating budget discussions.

A budget committee comprised of North Bay City Council members has moved forward a service level change that would add a property standards officer to the City of North Bay payroll. After some debate, it was agreed the new position would initially be filled on a two-year contract basis, instead of on a permanent basis, as proposed.

Manager of Planning & Building Services Beverley Hillier spoke in favour of adding the position to the department.

"The new position would focus purely on property standards matters related to everything under the Property Standards and Vital Services by-law, including vacant and derelict buildings," Hillier told Council. "It is aligned with our overall strategy of trying to deal with vacant and derelict buildings."

Hillier advised the current practice is for building inspectors to spend 10 per cent of their roles addressing property standards. Hillier said the new position would present "opportunities for redevelopment and increased maintenance of buildings within the community."

Figuring in training expenses for the new property standards officer and the freeing up of resources within the building inspector division, the cost for the first eight months would come in just under $24,000 while the full second year has a budget line of $115,000.

Hillier reported property standards issues are currently dealt with on an "emergency basis, often with a number of them going unattended or unresolved year over year," and the City annually receives an average of  "170 to 200 property standards complaints," a number that has "not gone down year over year over year." 

Planning & Building Services is working on updating the by-law to make enforcement of property standards a more streamlined process, said Hillier.

She added, "The enforcement side of property standards takes up an extreme amount of time for staff in trying to achieve compliance — in most cases, we do achieve compliance, it just takes a concerted effort to follow up with property owners."

Coun. George Maroosis wondered if adding the new property standards position meant he "could look forward to the corner of Seventh Avenue and Cassells Street being fixed up?"

Hillier responded, "It certainly would be a matter we would work towards. As I've said, enforcement is a time-consuming process."

Coun. Chris Mayne added to the discussion surrounding Dan Seguin's often divisive property saying, "I don't think anything will change there. The number of years we've tried to enforce and follow-up — and gone through the courts, and all kinds of things — nothing has changed and I don't think another person knocking on the door and making phone calls will change that particular situation at all."

Coun. Mark King pointed to the condition of the former Sands Motel property at the corner of McIntyre Street East and Fisher Street and the time the City has spent dealing with the matter as a concern the "by-laws don't have enough teeth in them."

Coun. Scott Robertson has spoken at length during budget and regular council meetings on property standards and their importance to the community.

"Part of the plan here is to actually give our property standards by-laws more teeth?" he asked Hillier, not just to address the vacant and derelict buildings but to "toughen up existing property standards," and enhance them.

Hillier agreed it was, adding the goal is to have successes in areas property standard enforcement had previously failed.

All members of the budget committee voted in favour of adding the contract property standards position. It will move forward to the final approval stage in the budget process.

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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