Campaign begun to address encroachment issues in Fernie
By Erin Knutson
The City of Fernie has begun a spring campaign to educate and enforce community compliance on encroachment issues that could significantly impact the quality and safety of public land, following a decision at Monday’s (Apr. 26) council meeting.
“Encroachments have the potential to create safety issues, damage infrastructure and ultimately cost taxpayers money,” said Bylaw Enforcement Officer Camille Neal.
High-priority sites will be addressed first, including the areas in and around the Annex Dike System.
“Residents will be educated by the city about the impacts of encroachments. A follow-up enforcement plan will be issued specific to the Annex Dike and area north of the lots along Mount Minton Street and west of the lots along Mount Proctor Avenue as an initial pilot,” said Neal’s report.
Voluntary compliance is expected from residents as the city moves forward in a systematic approach to eliminate property line infringement throughout Fernie.
“It will be enforced with the same degree of education and consistency throughout the municipality,” said Neal.
A zero-tolerance policy is part of the city’s mandate to enforce the campaign.
The policy will include commercial and residential areas, and the city will outline property lines through a legal site survey that will be available to the public.
“Things should be kept to your property because we don’t know what infrastructure is underneath and what impact it can have,” said Neal.
Mayor Ange Qualizza supported the zero-tolerance policy for encroachment as she clarified its specifications.
“Let’s make it very, very clear, so there’s no ambiguity – there will be zero tolerance, so you can’t have a swing-set, bouncy ball, or anything outside your property line,” she said.
The city will be counting on cooperation from residents given the scope and resources needed to properly enforce the initiative while maintaining that neighborhoods and residents will not be singled out with its systematic approach.
“It has to be equitable, and it has to be city-wide – we have justified the first two neighbourhoods because of the infrastructure projects, but we need to have a timeline. It’s important the entire community realizes that it will be equitable and that it won’t happen sometime in the future but very soon,” said Qualizza.
e-KNOW file photo