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COMMENTARY · 21st June 2012
Walter McFarlane
Shutters closed and there was the unmistakable sound of a lock clicking as the man walked down the street glancing from house to house. He was not a robber, he was not a troublemaker. People called him a busy body but it was up to him to keep his neighbourhood safe for the wealthy… And with the glorious bounty placed on the poor, he was providing a public service.

I do not know where I stand on the Unsightly Premises / Keeping Up with the Joneses Taskforce. While I know there are buildings in Kitimat which are in desperate need of a facelift / occupant, I disagree with their ability to target residences as unsightly.

First though, let’s define Unsightly…

From Dictionary.com: “adjective, un•sight•li•er, un•sight•li•est. distasteful or unpleasant to look at: an unsightly wound; unsightly disorder.”

Of course, what is unsightly to one person might not be unsightly to another. If there are two paintings hanging next to each other and you do not like one of them, this does mean the painting you don’t like is not art, it’s just not your cup of tea.

I have already wrote on this topic before but this bears repeating. One person’s eyesore might be another person’s home. There are all kinds of reasons a person might keep there home in such a condition, they might not have the money to keep it immaculate.

This is about people being able to look down at their neighbours from atop their ivory towers and saying: “I’m better then you because I can keep my house looking great.”

There are any number of reasons a person might not keep their property immaculate and it goes beyond poverty. Tragedy, illness or the wear and tear of everyday life might also cause a drop in property maintenance.

What really gets to me though is this new bounty on uninsured cars, disguised as a charity which Mayor Joanne Monaghan brought up under her good news in Council earlier this week. The idea is that you trade in your broken down old wreck and it becomes a donation to the Kidney Foundation. However, some cars are not insured because they are broken down old wrecks.

Poverty, again, plays a role in this. After all, keeping your car insured is more important then such trivial things including food, heating and rent.

While this service is portrayed as a charity, it allows people to pressure their neighbours into getting rid of their old vehicles which are just sitting on the property. Worse, they put on their vigilante hat, hunt down old vehicles, point at them and shout: “WITCH!!!”

I talked to Monaghan after the meeting and she told me owners of uninsured cars can make a plea to the District of Kitimat and they will accept uninsured vehicles as not being unsightly under certain circumstances.

Yes, there are some buildings in Kitimat which should be targeted. However, they should be targeted before occupied residences, businesses and so on. If this group wants to target residences, there was a presentation to Council in 2011 which talked about how some houses which were being rented out had hidden black mould between the walls.
AGREE
Comment by Linda Halyk on 22nd June 2012
There are many commercial buildings that need to be targeted first, before we go after uninsured vehicles.

Why should someone have to plea to the district to keep an uninsured vehicle in their yard? What if it is a summer vehicle for vacations, or a winter vehicle (4X4)? Or a vehicle waiting for a son or daughter to learn to drive?

I believe council has better things to do than have people coming to meetings to fight for the right to keep a car in their yard. Stand up for the environment and say no to ENBRIDGE.

Unsightly is in the eye of the beholder, you could call city centre mall unsightly. It is not a pretty structure. City Centre Hardware, you might say their windows and the goods they put outside are unsightly, same as Trigo's fenced area with soil etc., there are many many unsightly buildings in town.

Clean up? Definitely, but the District needs to take this on not individuals.
Question
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 22nd June 2012
Why is an uninsured vehichle unsightly and an unisured 5th wheel sitting in someones front yard under a tarp all winter ok? Council seems to pick on home owners but business owners are allowed to have dilapidated buildings for over a quarter century sitting around with no consequences. Is it possible because the business owners can afford lawyers and home owners can"t? I am all for cleaning up properties but I know through experience that there are double standards,one for businesses and one for the average joe.
Unsightly property
Comment by CEM on 21st June 2012
It is up to the District of Kitimat to govern property that have junk, long grass, broken leaning fences along broken sidewalks, weeds, camper units covered with ugly tarps which obstruct views of neighbours, trees that are overtaking neighbours property, in general "unsightly property's", what ever you want to call it and I don't see the District of Kitimat is or has done anything about in the present or the past. so what else is new, it isn't likely to change unless council really takes the bull by the horns and not table it or pass it or what ever they do.....they'll talk about when cameras aren't on.....just like everything else.