Norm Jackson owns a house across Balsam Avenue North from the city’s new Pan Am stadium – and all of its noise, workers and construction debris ahead of the stadium’s delayed grand opening in September.
And so Jackson was miffed to receive a letter from the city, a laundry list of changes he must make to his property to comply with city bylaws.
The city asked Jackson, and his daughter who rents the house from him, to clean up rubbish that was in the yard, as well as to fix the front walkway, the stairs and the front veranda. He ripped the deck out Thursday.
“I mean, we always planned on doing the work anyway,” he said. “The stairs are pretty bad. We were OK with that.”
“But we’re a little peeved that they can leave their shit all over the street, and work all kinds of hours.”
Making it feel worse, Jackson doesn’t think the deadline the city gave him, Sept. 14, is coincidental.
“They want everything nicey nicey before the stadium opens,” he said.
The city said Jackson’s order is one of dozens issued across the city, not just near the stadium. He was caught not in a stadium focused cleanup, but in the latest sweep by the city's newly beefed up proactive enforcement team that drives the city, street by street, looking for violations of city property standards, yard maintenance and zoning bylaws.
'Do we want our city to look the best? Yes. But when the games are gone, or whatever events are over, we still want to be proud of our city.' - Kelly Barnett, City of Hamilton Municipal Bylaw Enforcement coordinator
They might cite one property owner for an overgrown lawn, another for a lot of weeds and bags of garbage. Graffiti or inoperable vehicles parked on the lawn may also merit a citation.
“A lot of times it does have to do with image,” said Kelly Barnett in the city’s Municipal Bylaw Enforcement department. “It does have an impact on everybody in the neighborhood.”
The effort started as a pilot project in 2010 to augment a complaint-driven enforcement system, that many councillors found to be ineffective. The initial proactive pilot has been extended several times and was significantly expanded this year. The most recent extension came last fall as city councillors voted down a controversial licensing program for rental units and extended the proactive property push instead. The program was expanded from five part time staff to four full time staffers.
'We still want to be proud of our city'
This summer the team has been enacting a blitz in each ward, starting with Ward 1 and Ward 2 in June, followed by wards 3 and 4 in July, Barnett said. Ward 5 is up next.
Jackson’s property is in Ward 3. Barnett said the city didn’t specifically target the stadium-adjacent properties for the July blitz. The blitz covered King Street to Barton Avenue, Sherman Avenue to Gage Street.
“Do we want our city to look the best? Yes,” Barnett said. “But when the games are gone, or whatever events are over, we still want to be proud of our city.”
In the July blitz in Ward 3, officers issued 20 yard maintenance orders, six property standards violations and spotted one zoning issue.
They found a similar number of yard problems, 23, in Ward 4, and two property standards violations.
Twelve property owners in Ward 1 received yard maintenance orders in June, and three in Ward 2.
An apartment building was included in the Ward 2 blitz, which led to 15 property standards orders being issued – a higher number than any other ward due to the number of units in that building, Barnett noted.