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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

Saint John approves $215K community enhancement pilot

By Brad Perry Jun 29, 2023 | 10:51 AM

Saint John is adding more resources to enhance its property bylaw compliance programs.

On Monday, council approved spending $215,000 from its reserves for a 15-month pilot project.

More staff will be hired for the city’s minimum property standards program and dangerous and vacant buildings program.

“City staff anticipates an 80 per cent increase in resolved cases under the minimum property standards program and a 30 per cent increase in resolved cases in the dangerous and vacant building program,” said Coun. Joanna Killen, who chairs the city’s growth committee.

The minimum property standards program enforces maintenance and safety standards on residential rental buildings in the city.

Staff recommend using more resources to transition from a complaint-based approach to a proactive one that actively seeks out new cases in the south-central peninsula, north end and lower west side.

An analysis by city staff determined that out of the 900 buildings with three to 12 units in those areas, only 315 had been inspected under the program.

Under the existing approach, it would take staff about 15 to 20 years to inspect the remaining 585 buildings. The additional resources will allow them to do it within six or seven years.

“This is still a significant length of time, but an improvement of over 100% compared to the pace staff is currently able to work at,” said a city staff report.

“Furthermore, increasing capacity within the program will drive voluntary compliance, as building owners will take notice of increased efforts regarding Minimum Standards issues.”

Staff anticipate being able to target up to 80 resolved cases per year compared to the current target of 45.

As for the dangerous and vacant building program, city staff said the extra resources mean increased focus on new initiatives like the unsightly repair program.

That program allows staff to take enforcement measures against vacant buildings with unsightly dilapidated conditions such as peeling paint, broken windows and missing siding.

The city said 10 properties will be targeted in 2024, up from this year’s target of three.

Staff also want to put more capacity on other initiatives like the developer notification list, seeking opportunities for redevelopments by new owners.

It is expected that 65 total resolved cases could be targeted after a successful pilot, up from the current target of 50.

“By resolving more cases, the city will see a significant improvement in tenant safety, housing quality and affordability, and will experience safer, more vibrant neighbourhoods,” said Killen.

If the pilot project is successful, city staff said they will consider making it permanent as part of the 2025 budget deliberations.


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