Liane Geoffrion of Cornwall Ontario – Not enough by law enforcement in Cornwall Ontario – October 4, 2012

Liane Geoffrion of Cornwall Ontario – Not enough by law enforcement in Cornwall Ontario – October 4, 2012

The city of Cornwall received 2164 complaints in 2010 and 1756 complaints in 2011. Are the problems of messy properties getting better?  No, complainants have given up on Property Standards!

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When the Property Standards Department receives a complaint, they take pictures, issue a cleanup notice and then…. everything stops.  Property Standards claim that educating the offenders, friendly notices and grace periods are good practices.  They feel that,”Early formal action is inconsiderate and confrontational”.  My take on this is that they must not fine the offenders or demand too much of them but let’s frustrate their neighbours by not enforcing the by-laws.  Which part of by-law enforcement do they not get?  Is it not their job to enforce the by-laws to protect the rights of other tax payers?  Does this mean that charging the offenders seldom happens? The total revenue for by-law enforcement was $77,828. (This includes:  3500 dog licenses and 345 building permits).  How much revenue was actually taken in by Property Standards for by-law fines?

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Mississauga charges individuals for taking grocery buggies from stores while Cornwall prefers to have a truck pick them up every morning, free of charge to the offenders. Tying up Provincial Courts is another excuse but cities like Sudbury, transfer fines directly to the offender’s property taxes.  A Property Standards representative admitted to not knowing about the possibility of fine transfers to property taxes and fines for grocery buggies.  Neither was he aware of Cornwall’s free pick up service of buggies.

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Another excuse given is:  lack of staff.  In 2011, citizens paid taxes for a Property Standards Department, to the tune of $236,665 in salaries.  With over 2000 property standards complaints a year at now $105.00 per complaint, you do the math!  This is enough revenue to support more staff and some!

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The city must begin to charge offenders for debris, furniture on balconies and garbage everywhere!  Properties with construction and safety issues have not entered this discussion yet; just think of the revenue possibilities!  Lost revenues because of no by-law enforcement should be looked at by Council before they decide to increase our taxes again.  A proposed Property Standards Advisory Committee may have answers to problems created by Property Standards and I encourage outraged citizens to make their voices heard and attend Council Meetings.

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The above information is based on a report prepared by Property Standards, requested by Councillor Dupelle and presented to Council August 13, 2012.

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Next council meeting:  October 9, 2012, 7pm.

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Liane Geoffrion, Cornwall

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7 Responses to "Liane Geoffrion of Cornwall Ontario – Not enough by law enforcement in Cornwall Ontario – October 4, 2012"

  1. Don't Hold Back!   October 4, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    So glad you took leadership and published this for us Ms. Joffrion, as a homeowner the thought of a tax increase just makes me want to sell my house. I have to deal with the issue of that no-corrode plumbing in my basement that could go at any time and have been quoted a cost of nearly $4000 to fix it when the time comes. Obviously the whole problem of the no-corrode was caused by the slackness at City Hall in the first place where Cornwall is about the only place in Canada where it was put in place. I think the City should be paying for the replacement, if there was any justice at all, but I won’t hold my breath.

    As for your point with respect to the lack of follow up by the Property Standards Department we can also look at the City of London which had a pile of absent owners whose lack of caretaking for their rental properties caused many neighbourhoods to decay, that was all changed by citizens taking charge and breaking the paralysis at their City Hall. I met a woman last year who rented a tiny little apartment, she was so desperate that she took a place where the tenant had died in the bedroom due to smoking in the bed and the smoke marks were still in there!
    The absent landlord wouldn’t do anything for her.This is unacceptable in a civilized society. It only can happen when people are being bought off at City Hall, how else could this take place? I know my words are strong but someone has to say something here and get outraged.

    The sheer stupidity of not following up on property neglect is not acceptable in any way, shape or form! I am very angry about this because if the department is not following up then it should be disbanded. What will it take for the citizens of Cornwall to wake up and decide they no longer accept the stench of a corrupt system?

  2. harold   October 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    leave us enjoy our freedome worry bout paving our streets n give the citizins a free check once a year say bout 3000 a one time thing once a year the city can afford it

  3. David James   October 4, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I agree lets clean up the City! But let’s look at things logically here people! Ms. Geoffrion’s letter and “others” suggest the city should issue fines left right and center to any resident for not complying with the city’s property standards by-law. Great idea, the truth is 9 out of 10 people who have neglected properties will go to court and fight the small fine, once a fine is contested you can no longer issue a fine until the issue is heard in court, which may take a few months. Secondly, a justice of the peace will likely side with the defendant and reduce or annul the small fine, why you ask? Because the big bad city is picking on the small guy/girl. Thirdly, let’s do the math, staff member in court for the day, out of town lawyer fee for court preparation and court attendance. So, let’s just say a fine is 100×10=1000, let’s assume the justice of the peace sides with the city on every case. Let’s assume city salary a day is 150×10=1500, 1000-1500= -500+ lawyer fee =2500.00×10=25000+500=30000 deficit, oh I forgot the province takes about 50 to 60 of the fine 10×50 = 500+30000=30500. I can break down associated costs even more that would inflate the deficit. Ms. Geoffrion is this truly the way to generate revenue? It’s simple arithmetic and the above is a reality, there are many ways to obtain compliance rather than issuing fines, you don’t always have to be so heavy handed, you get more bees with honey ma’am.

  4. Wow!   October 4, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    ^Your math does not make sense.

  5. Reg Coffey   October 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    I think Mr. James works for the accounting dept at city hall.

  6. David James   October 4, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Hi “WoW”,
    You are right!!!!! I fudged one of my additions, I’ll try it one more time;
    – lets take 1 fine at $100 that goes to court
    – city staff, a day in court as a witness $150
    – lawyer fee $2500, that’s being generous
    – offenses court takes 1/2 of amount if convicted $50
    Follow, now let’s add and subtract;
    $100 fine – $150 salary = ($50 + $2500 =$2550 + $50 = $2600 deficit) $2600 x 10 = $26,000 and not $30,500.

    The author suggests that the city is missing out on revenue according to the numbers in the report, let’s do the math again
    $2600 per case x 2000 infractions = $5,200,000, if everyone goes to court vs $100 x $2000 = $200,000, if everyone took the fine on the chin. As a tax payer I sure as hell would not be happy.

  7. Liane Geoffrion   October 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Mr. James has not read the part about transferring fines/tickets directly to property taxes. If you check the Cornwall by-laws many infractions fit under unsightly properties and clean yard by-laws which are Offence( 1) and can be applied to property taxes. FYI These minor offences cannot be appealled.

    2000 complaints/year take a 100 off for good measure at $105. I still think it can generate revenues to hire more staff for that department. We would never accept a city that did not have police enforcement, why accept this?

    Google City of Sudbury’s by-law enforcement and their new Taxpayers’ Association….there’s a smart city!

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