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Alberton mayor hopes housing issue can be resolved without bylaw enforcement officer

Alberton town council officials say this Church Street building that was once a movie theatre and later a flooring business and an antiques store, is being converted into an apartment complex without a building permit or the required re-zoning.
Alberton town council officials say this Church Street building is being converted into an apartment complex without a building permit or the required re-zoning. - Eric McCarthy
ALBERTON, P.E.I. —

The mayor of Alberton estimates it could be March before town council revisits the issue of a Church Street renovation project that proceeded without proper approvals.

David Gordon said the building’s owner will need to demonstrate compliance with recent fire marshal’s office directives and make application to have the property zoned properly.

“He’s got to bring the building up to code,” the mayor said.

“The property … is not zoned properly for what he’s doing. That’s the main goal.

That’s got to go a different route.”

Gordon described the project as communal housing and said no such designation exists in the town’s bylaws.

“We want these people in our town, trust me, but I think they should have viable security that the building’s up to code.”

“(The province is) involved in it now. We have nothing more to do with it until we hear back from them,” he added.

The mayor acknowledged he received a phone call from the building’s owner, Jamie Rayner, following the fire marshal’s visit.

“It was suggested, if you can’t enforce a bylaw yourself, it’s best to discontinue the bylaw."
-Tignish Mayor Allan McInnis

Besides taking steps to get the building rezoned from commercial to residential, Gordon said the property owner must demonstrate he has adequate parking spaces for the tenants.

Alberton officials had issued a stop-work order on the project and were frustrated because they had no one to enforce their bylaws.

A spokesman for the provincial Department of Communities indicated the town has an official plan and, as such, is responsible for bylaw enforcement.

The lack of a bylaw officer is something Alberton and the neighbouring towns of O’Leary and Tignish have grappled with before.

Tignish Mayor Allan McInnis and O’Leary Mayor Eric Gavin both recall joint discussions by an Alberton-Tignish-O‘Leary working group about a decade ago about hiring a bylaw officer between the three municipalities.

“The cost was just overwhelming,” McInnis recalls.

McInnis said Tignish subsequently had discussions with a bylaw officer from eastern P.E.I. about enforcing a dog bylaw, but, they decided the cost was going to be too great.

“It was suggested, if you can’t enforce a bylaw yourself, it’s best to discontinue the bylaw,” and that is what Tignish did, now relying on the RCMP or Humane Society any time they have a dog issue that needs to be handled.

“We’ve got our own bylaws here, yes, and if they don’t follow them, I really don’t know who we get to look after that,” O’Leary Mayor Gavin commented.

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