Town steps back from proposed bylaws

Darrell Cole
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Back to the drawing board for vacant building legislation

AMHERST - It's back to the drawing board for a pair of town bylaws after council elected to table proposed legislation on backyard swimming pools and vacant buildings.

While both bylaws were scheduled to come up for second reading at next week's regular council meeting, councillors elected Monday to ask staff to take another look at both.

"It seems to me we're making this bylaw fit because we can't enforce it and I would not be able to sleep at night knowing there are no fences around these pools," Coun. Robert Angel said while speaking about the proposed bylaw that would remove the requirement for a fence around above ground swimming pools. "I don't agree with saying we don't have the staff or personnel to enforce this so we're going to say it's open season. We've got to find a way to build in some protection."

The town was recently advised by its solicitor that it could be liable because it's not enforcing its bylaw on backyard swimming pools when it comes to the pleathora of inflatable and children's pools.

Staff said the difficulty in enforcing the bylaw is the portability of these pools in that they are not permanent structures and are usually back in place as quickly as owners are warned they are not in compliance with the bylaw.

Coun. Dale Fawthrop understands concerns raised by Angel and George Baker, but suggested parents must take some responsibility when it comes to backyard pools.

"Maybe we don't need laws to tell everyone what to do with everything they have," he said, adding almost everyone who builds a permanent backyard pool would put a fence in place.

Insurance coverage would also likely dictate whether a fence is required.

His feelings were shared by Coun. Robert Bird, who said he doesn't want to be part of anything that involves going around and fining people over "little bitty kiddie pools. He thinks the town is getting too involved in people's business.

"If I put a skating rink in my backyard am I going to need a fence around it because someone could fall on the ice? Maybe we need a helmet and lifejacket bylaw, where's the end of this?" he asked.

Meanwhile, several councillors expressed concern with the proposed vacant buildings bylaw and its provision that vacant buildings have their windows boarded up. Town manager Greg Herrett said more work is required on defining what triggers the bylaw and suggested council give more consideration to what they want the bylaw to accomplish.

"I think we're caught up on the words vacant and boarded up and need to look at a number of things such as what triggers the bylaw," he said.

Angel said not all vacant buildings need to have their windows boarded up and suggested that those that need to be boarded up should be painted the same colour as the building.

"There's nothing in there about that and I read that as they're going to continue to board them up until they turn gray," Angel said.

Baker said if there are windows in the building, they should be left alone.

The vacant buildings bylaw was introduced last month as a weapon to deal with a number of vacant, derelict buildings in the community. Planner Jason MacDonald said the bylaw would simply be another tool at the town's disposal. While the bylaw would give the town the power to acquire a vacant building, it is not about to get into the real estate market.

Under the present bylaws, the town only has the power to order property owners to fix up their buildings and properties.

Geographic location: AMHERST

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Recent comments

  • Douggie B
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    coun. robert bird is the only guy that is looking out for his voters and amherst at heart . to be honest i dont know how some of you got voted back in its time for more fresh faces and ideas to keep amherst on the map TRY WORKING WITH WHAT IS AT HAND . TALK TO THE PEOPLE (ALL OF THEM ) NOT JUST THE SUITS AND YOU KNOW WHO I,M TALKING ABOUT

  • Peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Do what needs to be done to have the
    vacant buildings & eyesore properties
    condemned, fixed up or torn down.
    As far as having a fence around an above ground pool - nonsense.
    When these pools are not in use, the ladders are removed and they are usually covered. There is no way to accidently fall into an above ground pool.
    If a child tried to climb the side of the pool it would collapse and pose no threat.
    And if somone were to enter my yard and head towards my pool what are they doing there in the first place?
    GOOD for ROBERT BIRD a voice of reason, too much meddling into people's

  • allan
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Why dont you councillors just make a decision. The vacant and derelict buildings look like crap and do nothing four your tourism. Get up to par and have these dumps destroyed. They are truely an embarrassement to your town. Coming back year after year to visit my family I am disgusted in seeing this.These counsillors have to get their act togther.

  • allan
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    D.G from Amherst should learn to spell. I am very proud of the East and the Amherst area where I was brought up. I don't think people should settle for second best and having these eyesores is a reflection on the community. If your willing to put up with the status quo and not willing to do anything then thats your problem. Just because you are not a modern city does not mean you can;t have a nice town. I.M afraid people with an attitude like D.G ,s is a big part of the problem. I just believe you should strive for better . You dont have to be 20 years behind. I WRITE THESE COMMENTS BECAUSE i CARE ABOUT YOUR TOWN. Thankyou

  • sparky00
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree Allan, but they don't need a new bylaw to do this. Send the building inspector to these houses. I guarantee that a majority of these eyesores would be condemned.

  • D
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    If the mouth from ottowa doesent like the way the east looks mbe he should keep his butt in ontario,we are not a modern city we are the foundation of the country n if ya dont like the look turn your head !!