Quesnel City Council has deemed a structure located at 1207 Crane Avenue to be in “unsafe condition” and “unclean as to be offensive to the community” according to the Community Charter and ordered the property owner to demolish the principal building by July 22, 2020, due to health and safety conditions identified by the Chief Building Official and the Bylaw Supervisor, during a council meeting on Tuesday, July 7.
Council has also authorized city staff to have the building demolished and dispose of all materials should the interested parties fail to demolish it within the time frame given, with the full costs of such demolition and disposal of materials to be added to the property taxes of 1207 Crane Avenue. If the taxes are not paid on the property and remain unpaid the property will be put up for tax sale, if there is no sale the property will be reverted to the City.
The city’s chief building official, Kevin Hicks said that while they are currently obtaining quotes for the cost of the demolition, he expects the cost to be approximately $40,000.
“We are estimating the cost at approximately $40,000 based on past demolitions that we’ve undertaken on but we are trying to get quotes right now because there is some mold removal and stuff before they can go in there and start demolition,” said Hicks.
Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson noted that the city’s Financial Stability and Audit Committee has tagged demolitions of this nature for consideration going into the 2021 budget as the property at 1207 Crane Avenue are properties in similar states of condition are unlikely to be sold as buyers will not want to assume the debt on the property.
“The fact that somebody is going to have to pay taxes in arrears plus $40,000 in order to acquire what will become a vacant lot is not likely,” said Simpson. “So the likelihood is, and its happened in the past, this will become a piece of property the City will acquire and therefore the cost will be a real cost to tax payers to demolition this. So we will be bringing something forward from the finance committee as part of our 2021 budget and beyond to talk about how we want to finance this and at least have either a reserve or build into our annual budget some form of demolitions because we’ve got a lot of these that we are going to have to be dealing with over the next little while.”
Councillor Scott Elliott questioned whether there might be a way for the City to deal with derelict properties other than assuming the cost of demolitions to which City of Quesnel Director of Development Services, Tanya Turner sated that the City is using all actions available to deal with the issue.
“The community charter and the local government act are what provides us with an ability to do whatever actions we have and it very clearly states out what actions that we have available to us and that is what we are proceeding with,” said Turner.
Turner also added that for many individuals in ownership of property deemed to be unsafe due to its condition, the cost of undertaking demolition of said property is beyond their financial reach.
“The ability for someone to demolish a house like that is very significant $40,000, for them to be able to do that it was just financially not feasible for them,” said Turner. “I believe that this is what we have seen on many properties and we are going to continue to see that and that’s unfortunately where we have to weigh taking on that financial burden as a community or having the community repercussions of having a facility or building like this that is becoming a problem and a nuisance for the neighbourhood.”
Hicks noted that best practice for the City moving forward will be to catch deteriorating properties and intervene before the only course of action is demotion, therefore allowing the city to avoid assuming unwanted costs.
“We are moving forward and hopefully trying to catch these places earlier then this because this just went on too long,” said Hicks. “Once it becomes derelict and it starts to deteriorate it’s all downhill from there so hopefully moving forward we’re trying to catch these places earlier so we don’t end up with or incur this cost of demolition.”