Contentious bylaw passed

The Controlled Substance Properties Bylaw passed city council on Monday. “We’ve been looking at this bylaw for the past five months and…

The Controlled Substance Properties Bylaw passed city council on Monday.

“We’ve been looking at this bylaw for the past five months and this draft is just as unreadable now as it was then,” said Councillor Florence Roberts prior to the vote.

“I still need interpretation to fathom some of the language used.”

“This is a piece of legislation that we hope we’ll never have to use, but it will be on the books for others to interpret years from now and I would like to see it more concise.”

Roberts was the only councillor to vote against adopting the bylaw.

“I was opposed to this bylaw at first too,” said Councillor Doug Graham.

“But the more chance we had to discuss the bylaw and make changes, the more comfortable I’m feeling with it.”

However, it is essential that the manager of bylaw services holds public meetings to ensure landlords understand the new legislation, he said.

“I don’t think any of them understand the bylaw any more then we did five months ago.”

Because of the public doesn’t understand the bylaw, there have been concerns that it will override SCAN legislation, said Councillor Jan Stick.

“But if someone brings forward concerns to bylaw or the RCMP about their tenant’s actions, then this doesn’t kick in.”

“It seems like we’re putting the cart before the horse, passing it and then explaining it to people,” said Councillor Dave Stockdale.

“I was assuming that there was some public process involved, am I wrong in that?”

City administration informed council that no public meeting had been held outside of the bylaw process.

“We did get a lot of letters objecting to this,” said Stockdale.

“But I guess we’ll see where the chips fly.”

The Controlled Substance Properties Bylaw was proposed after six houses were found to be involved in illegal drug grow operations in 2005.

After a grow operation or methamphetamine lab has been shut down, harmful chemicals and bacteria can be present in a home.

This could be dangerous for unsuspecting renters.

The new legislation states that RCMP and SCAN directors can choose to contact city bylaw services to inspect these homes.

Landlords would be forced to bring their homes up to code, and could face expensive punitive fines.

Before the bylaw was passed on Monday night, a series of amendments were undertaken.

Graham succeeded in adding the phrase “if deemed necessary by the manager of bylaw services” throughout the bylaw.

This would ensure that expensive cleaning and chemical testing wouldn’t be automatic.

Mayor Bev Buckway said she was “really pleased” that such a bylaw had been created.

“We’re sending a very strong message to say that grow operations are not going to be tolerated in the city of Whitehorse.”