Most Albertans live with neighbours and although we may not always think about it, they can have a huge impact on our daily lives.
Living nearby so many different people can often result in disputes. Here are some common problems and what you can do to address them, without heading to court.
Neighbours Aren’t Clearing Their Snow?
Snow and ice can make a beautiful winter, but can also create dangers in residential areas. Uncleared sidewalks and pathways are not only dangerous for people walking by your home, but are also challenging for people who deliver services in your city.
If you live in Edmonton and your neighbours fail to clear their snow, the first thing you should do is contact them. You may want to offer to help them keep their sidewalk clear and consider whether your neighbour has a limited ability to move the snow. If you cannot solve the dispute with your neighbour directly, record their address and a description of the problem to report to the City.
However, there are a few rules about reporting your snow concerns to the City that you should be aware of. Your neighbours have 48 hours after it has stopped snowing to clear their sidewalks and pathways. If the snowfall has not stopped for a full 48 hours, your complaint will not be accepted. In addition, your complaints will only be accepted between November 1 and May 1 of each year. If your complaint is received, and your neighbour still fails to clear their sidewalk or pathway, they may be fined $100.
Calgary bylaws set out a similar set of rules. Your neighbours are responsible for removing snow and ice from pathways and sidewalks near their property, but you should also consider addressing any problems with your neighbour directly and offer to help them remove snow. After the snowfall has stopped, your neighbours have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks and pathways before you can file a complaint. When a complaint is received, the City will notify your neighbour. They then have another 24 hours to clear the snow and ice. If they fail to do so, then the City may remove the snow and ice and charge the cost to your neighbour.
This common problem can arise in a number of ways – someone has a dog that never quits barking, your neighbour hosts noisy parties, or uses a lawn mower at 6 a.m. on Saturdays. Luckily, both Calgary and Edmonton have bylaws that regulate noise that disturbs your peace or affects your health and safety.
If you live in Edmonton, first try discussing your concern about noise with your neighbour. If that does not resolve the situation, you can then contact the City to address the problem. Excessive noise is prohibited between 10 p.m and 7 a.m.
If you live in Calgary, excessive noise in residential areas is prohibited between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. on weekends. If someone is making noise outside of those hours, they may be fined up to $200. If your neighbour is hosting a noisy party, or if you suspect that noise is resulting from criminal activity, you can contact the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234.
If you are being disturbed by excessive noise from vehicles or motorcycles, and live in Edmonton, you can contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567. If you are being disturbed by a noise infraction from excessive noise from vehicles or motorcycles in a public place in Calgary, you can contact the Calgary Police Service. If you are being disturbed by vehicle noise from a private property in Calgary, you can call 311.
If you are being disturbed by a barking dog in Edmonton, you can call 311 to report the disturbance. An officer may consider the duration of the barking, the time of day and week, and any effect of the barking. An officer has authority to issue a $100 fine for the disturbance. If you live in Calgary and your neighbour has a noisy dog, you can call 311 to file a complaint. The owner will then be notified, and you will be sent a log sheet to record the barking that disturbs you. When you return the log sheet, a bylaw officer will contact your neighbour to address the issue.
Messy Front Yards & Garbage?
No one likes looking at garbage around their property or on their neighbour’s front lawn, and cleanliness and safety are important in Calgary and Edmonton.
If you live in Edmonton and your neighbour is leaving garbage out, contact them directly, and remind them that they are responsible for ensuring that scavengers do not open their garbage and that it remains in waste bins with lids. Yards must be maintained to a reasonable standard, and your neighbours are responsible for the upkeep of their property, as per the Community Standards Bylaw.
If you live in Calgary, your neighbours are also responsible for keeping their garbage contained in the city-provided garbage containers with lids, and for maintaining their property in a tidy condition. If using garbage bags instead of bins, your neighbour is responsible for ensuring that the bags are watertight and securely tied, and that the collector’s access to the bins or bags is not blocked. Tidy yards are also required by Calgary bylaws.
In each of these possible situations, you should always try to work out the problem with your neighbour first. If that fails, the next step is to file a complaint: record the address of your neighbour and a description of the problem. Then, call 311 in either city, and be prepared to give your name, address, and contact information. When you file a complaint, a bylaw or peace officer will likely be sent to your area to address the problem. The seriousness of the infraction will determine how quickly your complaint will be dealt with. Most neighbourhood disputes can be dealt with through good communication and city support.
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The information in this article was correct at time of publishing. The law may have changed since then. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of LawNow or the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
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