Bullied by bylaw, says homeowner
Northern News Services
Published Friday, October 9, 2009
SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Upholding citizens' rights has always been important for army reservist Marie-Angelo Urbancig, and now he has gone head to head with Yellowknife's bylaw department.
Marie-Angelo Urbancig stands in his yard, where the city removed three vehicles. Urbancig wants the chance to defend his case in court. - James Chester/NNSL photo
Urbancig is involved in a battle with the Municipal Enforcement Division, which enforces bylaws in the city. The conflict began over a year ago when he was advised by a bylaw officer of a complaint about the state of his property in the Northland trailer park.
Now, with three of his vehicles and other property confiscated, Urbancig is angry that he has had no chance to defend himself in court.
The 52-year-old man was warned on July 25 and Oct. 15, 2008 by bylaw officers (and the second time, an official with the fire department) to clean up his yard. On June 17, 2009, he was served a clean-up order and says he was told he would be monitored closely.
The deadline was July 17, when he stayed home awaiting an inspector. When nobody came, Urbancig assumed his efforts had been satisfactory and thought the matter was closed.
The order itself was not unreasonable, he says. "I always admitted my guilt." According to Northland manager Mike Roy, "there's a lot of properties in here that are unsightly but it wasn't to the extent of his at that time … you couldn't even make it to the door."
"People had been to his property since (June 17) and determined that it wasn't cleaned up," says Doug Gillard, manager of the Municipal Enforcement Division.
On Sept. 9, Urbancig was handed a summons for "failing to comply with an order" under the municipality's Unsightly Lands bylaw 3979, asking him to appear before a Justice of the Peace on September 28 at 7 p.m..
When Urbancig got to the court, the doors were locked. When he returned home from work the next day, his belongings had been confiscated during the day.
In an e-mail on September 30 to Urbancig, Gillard admitted there had been a mistake and the court date on the ticket should have been Sept. 29.