Unkempt property inspections accounted for most of bylaw officer’s activity level in 2020

Estevan’s bylaw enforcement officer was kept busy during the past 12 months, according to the report issued at the Jan. 19 meeting of the Estevan board of police commissioners.

The figures showed that there were 1,173 occurrences for the bylaw officer last year; Special Const. Morgan Prentice, who was hired into the role in late February, handled the vast majority of them. A little more than half of the infractions, 591, were for unkempt property inspections. There were 259 unkempt property inspections in 2019.

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Councillor Lindsay Clark, who was at his first police board meeting, said one of the problems he has seen has been with vacant houses, and unoccupied homes become an issue again now that winter is here.

“There’s nobody looking after them,” said Clark. “It just seems to be something that’s coming up with the snow, because you don’t notice until the snow comes, and then you see nobody has touched that house for quite a while. I think we are going to have some issues with that, especially when we have more snow come.”

Councillor Shelly Veroba, also participating in her first police board meeting, noted there are areas in the city where one person goes down the block and removes the snow from the sidewalks. Other blocks, including some on Fourth Street, can be daunting to walk on, she said, because snow hasn’t been cleared.

Police Chief Paul Ladouceur said it can be tough to get into contact with the owners of the actual properties, because some don’t live in town.

“We’ve been fortunate so far this year that we haven’t seen a lot of snow,” said Ladouceur, who noted that Prentice has been very diligent.

There were 67 notices for snow removal in 2020, including 47 in December.

Residents have 24 hours to clear their sidewalk after snowfall.

As for unkempt properties, enforcement is different. There is a 14-day period to get the work completed after the first notice.

Ladouceur said it’s standard across the province.

Other frequent calls for Prentice in 2020 included 147 for animal calls, 248 for parking violations and 60 for cat traps.

The meeting was also the first for the police board in several months, so they reviewed monthly reports for crime numbers and bylaw enforcement figures from September to December. For more on the year-end crime numbers, please see Page A5.

The members of the police board for this year are Mayor Roy Ludwig, Councillors Veroba and Clark, and members at large Geoff Thiessen and Bernadette Wright. Ludwig and Wright are the only members back from last year.

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