Basement suite bylaw allows city too much leeway

I have recently gone through the process to make the basement suite of my home legal.

I have recently gone through the process to make the basement suite of my home legal.

We have done all of the work and inspections, etc., and it is now a legal suite.

In regards to Laura Tester’s article in the Advocate of Jan. 10, titled Suite fee ‘a slap in the face’, I think the main issue here should not be the $165 fee the city wants to charge us, as that can be attributed to a cost of doing business, and can be written off.

The real issue here should be in the wording of the bylaw itself. The offending section is on page 5 of proposed bylaw.

When I received a copy of the proposed bylaw in the mail before Christmas, I was dismayed at the wording.

The city has left it wide open to be able to come in to our property before licensing it, inspect it (again), and recommend any further changes which, I understand keeps properties safe for renters.

I’m not arguing that (see Bylaw under Licence on Terms and Condition #19- “… manager may impose terms and conditions on any Licence issued or renewed as are reasonably necessary”).

But the section I have a problem with, and think should be the main issue here, is that under the section Licence on Terms and Conditions, point #20 states … “The Inspections and Licensing Manger may impose Additional Fees on a Licence holder, by way of a Notice of Additional Fee, at any time during the term of the Licence, for costs incurred by the City attributable to the use or operation of the Secondary Suite.”

That wording gives the city an open ended invitation to levy “additional fees” as they see fit.

In Tester’s article, the last paragraphs indicate that Joyce Boon (acting Licensing and Inspections manager) stated that she “doesn’t envision random inspections being done,” except in the case of non-compliance to licensing or complaints from neighbours.”

Hmmm, really?

I’m not sure that we’re all as naive as the city would like us to be.

Be aware, be very aware of the repercussions if such a vaguely worded bylaw were to pass as law, and the power it would then give to the city once it was passed.

In theory, they would legally be allowed to levy any fee they see fit!

Rachelle Jones

Red Deer

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