A tenant using an oven to heat a dwelling or occupied outbuildings accessing electricity by extension cords to another building are some of the extreme examples in Williams Lake that have prompted the City to look at developing a maintenance bylaw.
“It’s not that we are going to take these 50-year-old buildings and make them conform to the base code,” the City’s building inspector Gary Deane said during the committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22. “We are just going to try and bring the safety standards up.”
Adequate egress windows, smoke alarms, heating systems or guard rails on stairs are standards the bylaw would be going after, he explained.
Williams Lake’s existing Good Neighbour Bylaw, established in 2014, only deals with property, not with buildings, said Brendan Foote of the reason why a maintenance bylaw is necessary.
Gary Muraca, director of development services and public works, said the maintenance bylaw would be complaint-driven.
Coun. Scott Nelson, a rental owner himself, agreed with developing a bylaw.
He suggested it include airbnbs and that industry and advocacy groups be part of the consultation.
CAO Milo MacDonald said the City does not want to take the kind of action that will remove rentals and that there is a market for all levels of housing.
“We are more interested in the safety aspect,” MacDonald said. “If someone is leaving the oven door open at 400 that is obviously unsafe. That happened right here in Williams Lake.”
Mayor Walt Cobb also suggested staff look at ways the bylaw could protect landlords.
It is the third time, Deane said, he’s advocated for a maintenance law but that his request never made it as far as city council.
“This is something we seriously believe in. Staff time on this will not be drastically impacted and we won’t need to hire additional staff,” Deane added, noting there is a model bylaw provided by the province that municipalities can adapt as their own.
Staff will work on drafting a maintenance bylaw to bring back to council for further discussion.
Several other B.C. communities have developed maintenance bylaws including Quesnel.