Still a chance to hire a full-time property standards person at city

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Cornwall city hall

While the city's over-burdened bylaw department has shelved a plan to hire another person to enforce property standards rules in Cornwall, city council may be ready to make moves to free up the money to help resurrect the idea.

Last year city council was talking tough in the face of numbers which suggested the bylaw department operates on a shoe-string and has just 1.6 positions trying to enforce a multitude of bylaws designed to police vacant buildings, structural safety and yard cleanliness.

It will cost about $33,000 to create another full-time position, and given city council's desire to reign in spending, the idea was shelved for 2013.

But some city councillors have openly talked about finding savings in other departments to find the money to go ahead with the hiring.

"It might mean all city departments are going to have to give some money towards this," said Coun. Maurice Dupelle. "I won't let it die."

Dupelle was the loudest voice around the council table last year when it was learned the city receives some 1,700 bylaw complaints a year, and bylaw officials can't keep up with the public's demand that properties be kept neat and tidy.

He added it might also be time to look at the amount of work other city eployees do, regardless of department, and consider adding a bylaw enforcement component to their duties.

"When you get down to the kind of (budget) constraints we have, you have to work with unions and see how we can redirect the workforce," said Dupelle.

Coun. Denis Thibault, one of the more fiscally-reserved members of council, agrees with Dupelle.

"We need to have a serious look at the rest of our organization and see how our resources are being used," he said.

The city is advertising for members of the community to become part of a property standards committee that will oversee issues related to yard cleanliness and safety.

The committee could recommend that the city hire the person - but the 2013 budget will likely be wrapped up before the committee members are in a position to do so, pushing the plan back at least a year.

Geographic location: Cornwall

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