Senior told to clean up yard thinks he’s been treated unfairly

By on June 5, 2017

This is how Barry Crowley’s yard looked Tuesday morning. The long grass and weeds that covered his back yard have been cleaned up, but huge piles of wood and several derelict vehicles remained. Town of Osoyoos council had ordered Crowley three weeks ago to clean up his yard by Monday (June 5) or they would bring in contractors to clean it up and charge the bill to Crowley. The town says Crowley’s property has been the subject of numerous unsightly premises complaints over the past several years. (Keith Lacey photo)

An Osoyoos senior who was warned by Town of Osoyoos administration and council to clean up his unsightly yard believes he’s being unfairly treated.

Barry Crowley, 80, appeared before town council three weeks ago and was informed he had until Monday (June 5) to clean up his yard, which senior administration said has been the subject of numerous unsightly property complaints over several years.

Crowley was told that if numerous steps weren’t taken to clean up his yard and remove several derelict vehicles, then contractors would be brought in to clean up the property and remove the vehicles and he would have to pay for it.

During an interview last Wednesday, Crowley said he has been trying to hire a lawyer to halt proceedings against him, but has been unsuccessful.

“Trying to find a lawyer is like trying to find a family doctor around here … you can’t do it,” said Crowley.

When he asked town officials for an extension so he could hire a lawyer, his request was refused, said Crowley.

Town officials say Crowley’s property on 70th Avenue has been subject of numerous complaints over several years.

“Most recently, the town has received complaints regarding the unsightliness of the property with respect to old derelict vehicles, discarded shingles, weeds and other garbage and discarded materials,” said a town official during a presentation to council.

Crowley was warned by the town’s bylaw officer last November to clean up his yard and nothing was done, she said. “After several attempts to have the property owners comply, our lawyer … sent a letter to the property owner on Dec. 20, 2016 requiring that the property be cleared no later than April 15, 2017. No action has been taken by the property owner to date.”

Some of the unsightly issues on the property include:

• Asphalt roof shingles are strewn mostly along the side yard of the property.

• Discarded items such as old benches and barrels are spread throughout the property.

• Wood planks, boards, sheets and other lumber are displayed even though the property owner has been asked to neatly pile and cover this lumber with a tarp.

• There is overgrown brush, grass and other landscaping that needs upgrading.

• There are five vehicles on the property and four don’t have insurance and three have been deemed to be derelict. Under the Good Neighbour Bylaw, derelict vehicles mean a vehicle which is physically wrecked or disabled and not capable for operation under its own power.

“The property owner was also given some options as to how to deal with the derelict vehicles,” she said.

Crowley said a contractor hired by the town did “10 minutes of work … and I got a bill for just under $500 … that’s not right.”

Crowley was informed in very clear terms he has until June 5 to clean up his yard as required or contractors will be brought in to clean it up at his expense.

This includes administrative costs, the cost of hiring a contracting crew and any costs relating to removal of the broken down vehicles.

If those costs aren’t paid before the end of the year, they will be charged to his municipal property taxes.

Crowley said he has tried his best over the past three weeks to take steps to clean up his property.

On Tuesday morning, all of the grass and weeds in his back yard had been trimmed and removed, but the huge piles of wood and vehicles remained.

There has been heavy rain throughout the spring and this has caused his grass and clover to grow abnormally long and the warm weather of the past two weeks has made it difficult for him to stay outside for long periods of time, he said.

I’ve been out there trying my best … I’m 80 now and I get tired. I’m trying to clean it up.”

Most of the wood and planks piled in his backyard “is usable wood” that he plans on burning and he would try and cover and pile it out of sight from neighbours, he said.

“A lot of that lumber is usable and too good to throw away,” he said.

Crowley was adamant he wasn’t going to be removing the vans in his backyard.

“I’m driving the brown van … and the grey one is in good shape and only needs a motor,” he said. “Two of the other vehicles aren’t mine and were supposed to be moved quite awhile ago. I really don’t know how to get rid of them.”

Crowley said he believes only one neighbour has filed complaints, contrary to what council heard in the staff report.

“I really don’t think it’s that bad (his back yard),” he said. “Does it really look that bad? I don’t think it looks that bad.”

When asked what he will do if the town does bring in contractors this week, Crowley said he doesn’t know what he will do.

“Even if I do everything they ask me to do, they’re just going to keep sending me letters,” he said. “It will never be good enough.”

As of Tuesday morning, the town had not called in any contractors to complete the list of items they had demanded be cleaned up during the council meeting.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

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4 Comments

  1. Frank

    June 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Interesting fellow! Sounds like he is well acquainted with the law. It’s no wonder he can’t find a lawyer in Osoyoos!

  2. Joan

    June 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    He might be treated unfairly! We have a neighbour whose yard is worse and I don’t think they’ve been asked to clean it up. We’ve never filed an official complaint but I’ve heard other neighbours also ask them to clean it up. Unfortunately it causes us some anxiety as visitors always ask how we can stand it and strongly suggest we file a complaint.

  3. Doug Robbins

    June 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I would be willing to give him a hand in his yard if he’d like….

  4. derrick davies

    June 14, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    It’s about time the city get involved,there are far to many scrap yards in Osoyoos.There should be a bye law to stop this holding.

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