CBRM takes ‘worst first’ approach in demolition of abandoned buildings
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.
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.
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.
Half of a company house located at 111 Victoria Rd. in Sydney is among 10 properties approved for demolition this week by CBRM council.