City proposes updates to sound and graffiti bylaws

The City of Whitehorse is considering changes to its maintenance bylaws that would stregthen enforcement of rules surrounding noise, graffiti and snow-covered accessible parking spaces.

The City of Whitehorse is considering changes to its maintenance bylaws that would stregthen enforcement of rules surrounding noise, graffiti and snow-covered accessible parking spaces.

Councillors debated the proposal during the April 4 standing committee meeting.

The city already has a sound ordinance in effect, prohibiting noise that would “disturb the quiet, rest, enjoyment or comfort of any person of reasonable sensitivity.” Mayor Dan Curtis said residents have recently complained about traffic-related noise.

The changes primarily involve the ways noise issues can be reported and resolved, said Dave Pruden, the city’s manager of bylaw services. Under the current rules, reporting a sound disturbance was complaint-based, which means that if a bylaw officer noted a disturbance — say, a vehicle with an exceptionally loud muffler — they would be unable to issue a warning or ticket unless someone called to complain.

Under the proposed changes, a bylaw officer would now be able to issue that warning based on their own discretion.

“Most times we would just give a warning,” Pruden said.

The proposed changes also make it mandatory for property owners to remove snow and ice from accessible parking spaces before 11 a.m. on the day following a snowfall or upon the request of a bylaw officer. This is to address concerns for people with mobility issues, Pruden said.

“We were finding that sometimes people wouldn’t clear these spaces right away … and we want to make sure those spots are given more attention so that people with mobility challenges can access them,” Pruden said.

The proposed bylaw changes also make it mandatory for people to remove graffiti from their properties within 30 days of “becoming aware” of the graffiti. This issue revolves around concerns mainly centered in the downtown core area about persistent graffiti.

“The downtown area is obviously more visible because of the traffic that moves through it,” Pruden said. “We want to keep that area clean and tidy…. So it doesn’t look run down and people feel safe to stay and shop in that area.”

Councillors are concerned about how the graffiti rules would be enforced. Curtis asked how bylaw officers would prove an owner has “become aware” of graffiti and how the 30-day requirement would be enforced.

“Some people who are property owners might travel and it can be difficult to contact,” Curtis said.

Pruden said the 30-day period would begin when a bylaw officer issues a warning. But Pruden said there can be “extenuating circumstances,” which might extend the time frame, such as the need for special paints or a family emergency.

“Bylaw is interested in working with businesses to remove graffiti … we try to be as fair as possible,” Pruden said,

Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed bylaw changes at its regular meeting April 24.

Contact the Yukon News at editor@yukon-news.com.

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