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City targets run-down cars

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There’s a city bylaw on the books that says you can’t keep a derelict car in your yard.

But it’s a rule the city’s never been able to enforce.

Until now.

Derelict vehicles were defined as not being operational or insured to be driven. Most people complied with the city’s request to remove them.

But if they said their car was operational or insured, the city had no way to prove otherwise.

Now, thanks to a bylaw change, the city puts the onus on the owner

to prove their car works and is street-legal.

It's a change that a Burnaby resident claims could have widespread effects.

G. Gupta, who declined to give his or her first name, wrote to council claiming it could apply to a vehicle "even if it is stored in a garage under a cover, or even if it was immaculate in its appearance."

A vehicle being restored or needing repair could be affected, claimed Gupta by email.

Gupta also cited as an example a case of a tenant's car, parked inside a garage, being at issue. "The problem is I cannot even enter the tenant's garage without a 24-hour written notice under the Residential Tenancy act and I have no authority to enter the tenant's car without a Court Order to get her car key and start her car or compel her to do so."

That's not the case, said chief licence inspector Dan Layng.

For one thing, the bylaw only relates to people's yards and not any interior spaces. So if a vehicle is stored in a closed garage, it's not affected. It also only involves properties deemed unsightly which have become a source of complaints to city hall.

Enforcement of the bylaw is complaint-driven, noted Layng.

The change to the bylaw gives city hall the ability to force property owners to prove those vehicles aren’t derelict.

If they are, and the owners don’t remove it themselves, the bylaw gives the city the power to clean up an unsightly property and charge the cost to the owner’s tax bill.

Layng stressed the city works with property owners and gives ample time for them to address the issue, whether it’s by repairing or insuring

a vehicle, or moving vehicles or parts inside a garage.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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