Council looking at Chamberlain Park encroachments

Dawson Creek City Council is looking at options to address encroachments discovered on City-owned property in Chamberlain Park.

At Monday’s council meeting, they gave the first three readings to the park dedication bylaw amendment to remove the park dedication from 12.72 acres that has been encroached by property owners. This is required in order to consider lease or sale agreements with said property owners.

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In a timeline of events provided by staff, the process had initiated when a pair of property owners addressed council in February 2017 to discuss their encroachment and to request to keep it with conditions. Council had initially motioned to survey the property line and remove all structures at that council meeting.

After months of public consultation, council had adopted a trespass and encroachment policy in September 2017, and had rescinded the previous motion, looking to deal with the encroachments under the new policy.

However, the park status of the land had interfered with the City’s ability to lease it to property owners.

CAO Duncan Redfearn says there were about 34 different properties that “had varying forms of encroachment, some from a portion of the deck” to fences and sheds. The original property addressed in February 2017 had a path and fire pit. The 12.72 acres of land total is assessed at $51,513.17.

Redfearn noted there was no commitment from the property owners to purchase the land, and says they are unsure of what the next step is should the amendment be approved. (Sale of all the land would result in jagged property lines, he noted).

The bylaw requires an alternate approval process, which takes about six weeks to complete. Two consecutive weeks of notice in the paper are required, and after that residents have 30 days to respond. If no more than 10% of eligible electors object, then it can be considered for adoption. If more than 10% do, Council would need to go to referendum.

Councillor Blair Lekstrom, repeating a theme at the day’s council meeting, introduced a motion to recover the costs, saying it “shouldn’t be on the shoulders of all the other taxpayers to incur the costs of this.” It passed.

Councillor Shaely Wilbur raised the issue that there are many other encroachments in the City.

“As we moved through this process, council directed that we take a little more proactive approach on encroachments that are in development, [. . .] so we can engage with these while they are under construction, and not 20 years as we are in this circumstance,” responded Redfearn.

“But our policy is still reactive at this point, so those encroachments, unless we receive complaints that have been there for a number of years, we’re not taking those on at this time.”

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