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COMMENTARY · 2nd November 2011
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat has a lot of problems. This is one fact most people can agree on. One of those problems is the derelict buildings, which was brought up in Council by the Unsightly Premises Task Force.

I agree with the bylaws being upgraded for health and safety reasons. However, when it comes to the word eyesore, I find myself completely turned off.

Remember, one person’s eyesore might just be another person’s home. The example cited had an unlicensed car in the front yard, which could be a sign of anything. Poverty springs to mind, however it could just mean they are looking after a friend or family member’s car. Could there be a crisis which has caused the property owner to fall behind on maintenance?

Did the task force ask before they suggested one of their neighbours might be having financial problems to the community? Of course, since presenting to Council requires announcing your address, anyone in the community could track these ‘eyesores’ down based on the descriptions alone.

Of course, the people who live in these houses should be easy to spot. They’ll be the ones with the paper bags over their heads after their public shaming in front of Council.

But this issue is not about unsightly premises, it’s about conformity. Forcing people to conform to what others think is normal. But there are other reasons why people do not conform. Maybe they do not see their home as unsightly, maybe they were raised with different values or maybe, they do not have the skills or the money to maintain the house.

In the latter case, should we be fining them money for not having the money to maintain a property? Times are tough, even in Kitimat, even with all of these promises the Mayor keeps making. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is able to make ends meet.

Then again, this committee was formed by Mayor Joanne Monaghan, the same person who said people in Kitimat could afford a tax hike because: “they all have two or three cars, skidoos, boats. They have all these kinds of recreational things.”

This committee should deal with the derelict buildings first. Then form a subcommittee to go to all the so called “eyesores” in town and ask if they would like help with the yard work. After all, people don’t need to be forced to keep up with the Joneses.
start at the top
Comment by K.Lynn on 16th November 2011
Every community needs to have a standard. When people are not required to maintain their yards, their neighbors property values go down as well. I'm all for people being able to do what they want on their own land, but there is a difference between having an unlicensed vehicle parked out front, and having 5 scraped cars, a moldy sofa chair, a broken swing set and 4 foot tall grass all in one front yard. Unless there is a required standard, some people will think this is just fine. However, when looking for eyesores, the 'task force' might want to look away from private residences and first look at some of the bigger derelict buildings. There are number of buildings near schools and neighborhoods where children play that are not only unsightly, but unsafe. Set an example before you point fingers at the little people. I don't own any of those luxury items mentioned, but I wouldn't be surprised if the owners of some of those large derelict properties do.
Well said
Comment by Linda McGourty on 10th November 2011
This is the kind of person everyone should have as a neighbor. I have a feeling she'd be the one of a hundred that would be at your door asking if you needed help.
A little investigation and compassion
Comment by Linda McGourty on 10th November 2011
Im always amazed at how quick people are to shame and denigrate their neighbors house, property ect... without really having any idea why things might have fallen into disrepair.
Does anyone ever think of asking or maybe even offering a hand? No . Just jump on the bandwagon and fine them. Shame them publicly and if that doesnt make them conform, burn them at the stake.
Your neighbor of 20 years could be seriously ill and unable to do normal yardwork. They may have lost there job and be struggling to eat, never mind pay to fix an unsightly car.
Next time you have something negative to say about your neighbors unsightly house or yard, stop, and then do the right thing. Go ask if somethings wrong, or if they need help in some way. Lets not add to someones possible burden, by making them feel like a criminal.
City and Eyesores!
Comment by Leon Dumstrey-SooS on 7th November 2011
Why the "Task Force Witch Hunt", is the Coucil trying to hide their failure in managing the buildings they were responsible for: OLD CN STATION for example!!
Agreed!
Comment by Crystal on 3rd November 2011
Granted, there are some buildings and homes that look like they're about to crumble in on themselves. I agree that they should be assessed for health/safety reasons, and dealt with accordingly. (Either have them fixed, or demolished before someone gets sick or injured.) But as for these so-called "eyesores" ie: unlicensed vehicles, etc. Sure, they may not be pretty, but who cares? In the grand scheme of things, are they really hurting anyone? I've lived in Kitimat for 5 years. I came from an area where everyone's lawns and properties were perfect, and if they weren't, you were the "bad apple" of the neighborhood, and were forced to clean it up, or get rid of it. Now, don't get me wrong. I have a tidy property, I'm not asking for my right to have a rotted, termite-ridden shack in my yard, or a rusty old beat up car on my front lawn, because I, personally, don't want one. However, I don't think it's fair to ask someone to get rid of THEIRS. Whatever's on their property doesn't even slightly hurt me or my "image." If a neighbor's premises somehow offends company of mine, well they don't have to look. What if that unlicensed vehicle is the only vehicle that person can afford? Maybe they're desperately trying to save some money to have it fixed, and on the road! Are we going to start forcing un-sightly people to wear make-up too, because it might hurt the image of our town? Where are our priorities? How about having educational programs and a health system we can be proud of before worrying about someone's ugly lawn. I, for one, certainly hope my daughter grows up with the impression that her level of education and her health are far more important than her perfect house, and polished image. Our community leaders should hold those same values. My vote this year will go toward those who DO!