Surrey gets tougher with nuisance properties

SURREY — Property owners who have received more than three nuisance calls in the last year will soon face pricey tickets and be financially responsible for being a drain on city resources.

On Monday, Surrey city council authorized staff to amend the city’s nuisance and ticketing bylaws to allow officers to fine troublesome properties and force owners to recover expenses associated with repeat nuisance calls. The report notes an increase in nuisance-related calls, most being repeat visits to a small number of properties.

“The nuisance bylaw currently allows for a $10,000 fine plus the costs of prosecution for each violation under the bylaw,” read the report. “Offences related to the nuisance bylaw must be enforced by means of long form charges through the court, which is a fairly time-consuming and costly process.”

The option of issuing charges through the court system will remain for circumstances that warrant it, but Coun. Barinder Rasode said it is important to provide officers with a more proactive method of recovering costs.

“We’re very aggressive where we can be, but often times, the courts cause such delays, so I’m really happy to see that this takes us closer in dealing within our own realm in a stronger fashion,” she said.

In addition to the $10,000 fine, bylaw officers will be able to issue $250 tickets per offence. The city may also impose a fee for future responses to service calls for nuisance properties that have received more than three calls in a 12-month period.

Before taxes, the minimum cost for a nuisance service call response from the city is $682, and the minimum administrative and overhead fee is $364. Staff also clarified that the costs of dispatching police officers and fire fighters to properties will be included in the recovery costs.

The corporate report listed dozens of attributes that fall under the definition of nuisance, including excessive noise, noxious odours, graffiti, unsanitary conditions, plant overgrowth and offensive business activity.

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