I feel like this shouldn't be an election issue, but it is because it's dragged on this long.

In the adjoining photo are my boys, handing out fliers for the petition to get BCK cleaned up. We first voiced our concerns in a written complaint in Aug 2013 and were promised a report on available enforcement actions at that time. In May 2014, my youngest got his foot tangled in some fence wire that was literally growing out of the ground right beside the sidewalk on 11th St W (he was fine, but that shouldn't have been there).

We went hey, why didn't that report ever come back? Nothing has happened. So we followed up with another written complaint. We were told by the city manager that the report never came back but assured we would be notified when it did. Then we were told she had it. Then we were told it was for "internal" use only. They just kept throwing their hands up that they didn't know what to do. I sent the applicable sections of the by-law, with pictures. We were asked to wait patiently. We were asked to follow up with by-law enforcement (police). We jumped through all the hoops and nothing happened.

Meanwhile, my boys are asking me, "Why aren't they cleaning it up? Don't they have to take care of their things?"

You would think.

In August, the fence was taken down, stretched out and put back up with newer 2x4s. Nothing has been done about the invasive weeds or grading the site so it can be maintained or constructing a fence that complies with the by-law. We sent another written complaint with pictures. I asked the city what their next steps were and said mine would be a petition, because this had gone on far too long and the owner had no intention to fix anything.

Then a strange thing happened.

The tone of the entire process changed. Instead of council and the mayor asking us to be patient, that they were working on it, it became "We've taken action, it's fixed. It's compliant."

You can just look at it and see that it's not. No, Miranda, they said, it is. There's nothing we can do.

The chief of police made statements to media - it's compliant now. The Mayor and head of by-law, David Adair, said it was compliant. You can read the by-law yourself and see that it's not, but that's what they said to me and to the media and on their Facebook pages. It went from, we're working on it, to, someone please shut her up.

I was then invited to a meeting with the owner so I could tell him what the by-law says. Have you ever heard of such a thing? He didn't care.

We started the petition and I'm to do a deputation this week at council at 7pm Monday night. All week, people were phoning saying there's going to be a surprise motion to strike a committee to look at these lots, which would effectively push the whole issue until after the election. We expect this to be looked after THIS YEAR. The owner has proven over several years that asking him nicely doesn't work. I was also told an order for cleanup has already been made.

Not wanting to waste anyone's time, I asked by-law Thursday if there was an order. They didn't respond (and haven't responded to my other two emails since July). Friday, I emailed the mayor, all of council and the city manager and asked them about this committee idea, which would just put it off even longer, and the by-law enforcement order.

I received an email at the end of the work day yesterday from the police telling me they can't release that information. They cannot confirm or deny whether they've taken the action they promised for two years.

I asked what legislation prevents them from responding to our repeated concerns?

No answer.

I spoke to lawyers and a provincial representative. There are no grounds to withhold this information. It's more of the shutting out and secrecy that has plagued this term.

We've done what we said we would do if nothing happened throughout this whole ordeal - kept following up, raised awareness, even talked to the owner himself. I didn't expect it would ever be this contentious, or that it would go on this long. But it's become a symptom of the larger problem - a lack of transparency and accountability.

Monday night, I'll go present the petition, but I do it feeling that the city has not yet acted in good faith.

And oh, that little report on the enforcement actions available to them - the one that was holding everything up? I learned last week that it was submitted to council in Sept 2013 as one of 14 consent agenda items that they accepted and signed off on. It said they could make an order.

They've had that for a year now.

Forgive me, but this is by far the biggest election issue for me this year. Honestly and accountability. Not fighting with people. Due diligence. Being an advocate for your residents. The responsible stewardship of our city.

I hope after Monday I can tell my kids that the grownups who run the town did the right thing.

Miranda Miller
Owen Sound

[Editor's note: The Hub welcomes a response from any of the agencies or organizations mentioned in this letter.]