‘Worst’ first

CBRM takes ‘worst first’ ap­proach in de­mo­li­tion of aban­doned build­ings

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

CBRM tack­les grow­ing prob­lem of dan­ger­ous and un­sightly prop­er­ties.

As the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity tack­les the grow­ing prob­lem of dan­ger­ous and un­sightly prop­er­ties in the re­gion, it is tak­ing a “worst first” ap­proach.

The prop­er­ties that score the worst on an as­sess­ment are the first to be tar­geted for de­mo­li­tion.

“There’s a lot of va­cant build­ings, and a lot of work goes with them,” said Paul Burt, man­ager of build­ing, plan­ning and li­cens­ing laws.

“It’s a huge prob­lem. We have a lot of out­mi­gra­tion so we have a lot of folks that have ba­si­cally walked away from their prop­er­ties, gone out West or are de­ceased or oth­er­wise can’t af­ford to deal with it so they just ba­si­cally up and move and it’s left for us to deal with it as they de­cline.”

He said they go to coun­cil four times a year with lists of build­ings to be de­mol­ished. The depart­ment also deals with build­ings that pose an im­me­di­ate dan­ger and oth­ers dam­aged by fire. There is an an­nual bud­get of $120,000 to deal with the de­mo­li­tions.

Burt said there is usu­ally a pat­tern that starts with a bro­ken win­dow and peo­ple gain­ing ac­cess to an aban­doned build­ing, caus­ing even more dam­age and pos­si­bly set­ting fires.

Re­gional coun­cil voted in favour of de­mol­ish­ing the latest round of 10 prop­er­ties at a meet­ing this week. A check­list that was de­vel­oped by build­ing of­fi­cials, in­spec­tors and the for­mer by­law man­ager, de­ter­mines which build­ings are in the worst con­di­tion. They look at struc­tural is­sues, as well as the build­ing’s gen­eral ex­te­rior and in­te­rior con­di­tion.

“Un­like tests, the higher your mark in this as­sess­ment, the worse your prop­erty is,” Burt said.

The prop­er­ties have been posted with in­tent to de­mol­ish or­ders and own­ers have been sent reg­is­tered letters or had no­tices served.

One of the prop­er­ties that scored the high­est this time around, 17 Lorne St. in North Syd­ney, was or­dered va­cated in 2012 un­der the province’s Safer Com­mu­ni­ties Act. Jus­tice Cindy Bour­geois granted an or­der to va­cate the prop­erty, rul­ing that ev­i­dence showed it had been ex­ten­sively used for drug traf­fick­ing.

It’s gen­er­ally a com­plaint-driven process, usu­ally from a resi- dent or a coun­cil­lor.

“We don’t nor­mally pick on some­thing just be­cause it’s un­sightly, but if we see some­thing that’s def­i­nitely a safety con­cern we’ll open up a file our­selves,” Burt said.

An in­spec­tor can is­sue a cleanup or­der or an or­der to se­cure a prop­erty.

The in­tent to de­mol­ish is posted on the prop­erty and own­ers are given a chance to meet with CBRM staff to come up with a plan. Once mo­tions to de­mol­ish are passed by coun­cil, 30-day de­mo­li­tion or­ders will be posted on the prop­er­ties. Own­ers then have that pe­riod to have the build­ing de­mol­ished them­selves and, if no ac­tion is taken, the CBRM will is­sue a ten­der for the de­mo­li­tion. The cost is then placed as a tax lien on the prop­erty.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTOS

This house at 17 Lorne St., North Syd­ney, orig­i­nally va­cated in 2012 un­der a Safer Com­mu­ni­ties Act or­der, was ap­proved for de­mo­li­tion this week un­der the pro­vi­sions of the Dan­ger­ous and Un­sightly pro­vi­sions of the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

This home at 401 Sec­ond St. in New Water­ford scored the worst in the most re­cent dan­ger­ous and un­sightly premises assess­ments car­ried out by CBRM staff.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

Half of a com­pany house lo­cated at 111 Vic­to­ria Rd. in Syd­ney is among 10 prop­er­ties ap­proved for de­mo­li­tion this week by CBRM coun­cil.

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