The City’s Community and Protective Services Committee approved a new by-law that would hold property owners accountable for managing their vacant buildings and lands through a new permit system.
The Vacant Property By-law would require owners of properties unoccupied for 120 consecutive days to obtain a permit and to follow regulations for identifying, managing and visiting their sites. The City could then better mitigate common problems with vacant properties, including improper maintenance, garbage, graffiti, vandalism, and unauthorized access. It would also help prevent demolition by neglect as the City could identify problems with vacant buildings before they are damaged beyond repair.
Annual permits would cost just over $1,700, and the fees would fund two new full-time positions to enforce and administer the by-law. Exemptions would be included to accommodate snowbirds, travelling workers and vacation properties. The City would waive the permit fee for two years on compassionate grounds, for instance if an owner was in care or a property was vacant due to a catastrophic event.
The Committee also approved recommended amendments to the Property Standards By-law to address pest control, landscaping, and grading and drainage, and to the Board Up By-law to expand protection to accessory buildings, such as sheds.
The Committee approved amendments to the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law to increase the taxicab meter rate by 10 per cent, effective June 11. Additionally, as of November 1, the commercial general liability insurance required for all taxi, limousine, and private transportation businesses would be reduced from $5 million to $2 million.
These changes respond to requests from the taxi industry and reflect the current realities of both the vehicle-for-hire and insurance industries. They also bring the City’s regulations in line with other municipalities, and improve the industry’s ability to operate and provide service to residents and visitors.
The Committee received an update on Crime Prevention Ottawa’s activities and accomplishments in 2021. Over the past year, the organization responded to emerging needs and worked with partners to enhance community safety and address the root causes of crime. They focused on a variety of projects, events and outreach initiatives in 2021, including a series of webinars on responding to mental health crises. They conducted research on improving services for people who use drugs, developed resources for young people navigating the education and criminal justice systems, and assessed the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ youth and young adults in Ottawa.
Recommendations from Thursday’s May 19 meeting requiring Council approval will rise to Council on Wednesday, May 25.