Abandoned house with graffiti

“If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself” – A Plug for Remedial Action

Jarrett Plonka

In the local government world, this is not always possible or practical. However, with remedial action requirements, you can get it done yourself. And you can recover the cost of the work!

Every community, no matter how big or small, has one. A problem property. The neighbours complain about it being a nuisance. Building inspectors and bylaw officers have repeatedly raised safety concerns and non-compliance issues with the owners and occupants, but nothing has been done.

Using the remedial action requirement provisions under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act, local governments can require owners, occupiers, or lessees of a property to remedy specific nuisances or hazards. If the person subject to the requirement takes the required action by the deadline, great — problem solved! If not, the local government can go in and do the work themselves.

After the work has been completed, the cost of conducting the work can be recouped from the owner. Both the Community Charter and the Local Government Act allow fees imposed for work done or services provided in relation to land or improvements to be collected via the property tax rolls.

When using remedial action requirements, be careful and diligent. The subject of the requirement must fit within the statutory scheme. Further, one must follow the strict statutory procedural requirements. Notice must be given to all affected parties and the Board or Council must hold a hearing before declaring the subject a nuisance or a hazard and imposing a requirement. Once a requirement has been imposed, the affected parties must be allowed to request a reconsideration hearing.

This procedure is something local governments can do on their own — lawyers are not needed. It’s much more cost-effective than seeking an injunction and will free up bylaw staff and building inspectors to deal with other compliance issues.