Resident removed from Grand Forks city council meeting

Nadine Heiberg nonetheless given extension to clean up her property.

A member of the public was asked to leave Monday night’s city council meeting after an outburst over unsightly premises.

Nadine Heiberg, a Grand Forks resident who has been the subject of an unsightly premise’s citation, came to council to present why she is not in violation of the unsightly premises bylaw. She was allowed to speak by a unanimous vote of council, as per the council procedural bylaw.

By her own admission, Heiberg’s premises have been considered unsightly by the city for about 25 years. Wayne Kopan, the city’s manager of environmental and building construction services, said despite efforts by bylaw, the property kept stalling during the clean-up process.

Heiberg said she was asking council to waive the $100 fine levied against her. She was also seeking an extension on the deadline to have her property cleaned up, and suggested that she would need until Nov. 30 to clean it fully. Heiberg was given the fine for non-compliance with the bylaw after several attempts by Kopan, including written letters, to work with her on cleaning up the property.

“The City of Grand Forks has been harassing me over my property and what they call unsightly premises for 25 years,” Heiberg said. “I requested until Nov. 30 to do what needs to be done and it is a lot of work that needs to be done. I am not finished.”

The next step in the process for Heiberg’s property would be city staff entering and remediating the property at the owner’s expense.

Councillor Chris Hammett said the process has been ongoing for far too long.

“No offense Ms. Heiberg, but I have been driving past your house twice a day for 12 years and you say you are not finished and you need another 60 days, but in the 12 years I have been driving past there, I haven’t seen it improve,” Hammett said.

Grand Forks Mayor Frank Konrad said council needed to be cautious in setting precedent, and advised council against waiving the fine. However, after an aside with Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin, Konrad came back with the suggestion that the fine be suspended until Nov. 30, by which time if it was not in reasonable shape the fine would be raised to $200.

“We cannot do that because then you set a precedent in the community,” Konrad said. Heiberg was removed from the meeting at this point after an outburst directed at Konrad.

Council discussed the matter further after Heiberg’s departure from the meeting. Councilor Colleen Ross put forward the motion that Heiberg be given an extension and her fine suspended to Nov. 30, at which point the $100 fine will come back into effect and will not be doubled.

Konrad asked for Kopan’s opinion on the motion, citing his professional opinion and experience with the individual.

“Since that ticket has been issued she has hauled away in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 truckloads of material,” Kopan said. “I honestly believe it will take her until Nov. 30 to get the property to a reasonable condition. I am not talking about spic and span; I am talking reasonable. I would give her the benefit of the doubt to try.”

Council passed the motion with Councilor Christine Thompson and Mayor Konrad voting against the extension.

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