Un­der the wreck­ing ball

CBRM a leader in derelict build­ings

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NANCY KING

It’s a cat­e­gory where of­fi­cials with the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity would likely pre­fer not to be a leader in the prov­ince — deal­ing with derelict and dan­ger­ous build­ings.

Paul Burt, man­ager of build­ing, plan­ning and li­cens­ing laws, said he re­cently read an ar­ti­cle where the city of Van­cou­ver was try­ing to deal with 200 derelict prop­er­ties. Mean­while, the CBRM has about 600 com­plaint files to deal with each year, in­clud­ing about 290 in the past year re­lated to the Thanks­giv­ing Day flood.

“There’s mighty Van­cou­ver with over a mil­lion peo­ple and they’re strug­gling with 200. Well, here’s poor CBRM with its 100,000 peo­ple,” Burt said.

“We’re def­i­nitely the leader in the prov­ince, for sure. We have a lot of other mu­nic­i­pal units con­tact­ing me be­cause they’re quite in­ter­ested in our process be­cause they strug­gle with a much smaller num­ber — they’re smaller mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties so they’re used to do­ing one or two a year.

“They’re re­ally look­ing at us and our process be­cause we do have a re­ally stream­lined process, we fol­low the act and the by­laws and we’re quite ef­fec­tive at deal­ing with the large num­ber that we get.”

An­other 18 derelict prop­er­ties in the CBRM could soon go un­der the wreck­ing ball.

Re­gional coun­cil­lors have ap­proved the most re­cent list­ing of de­mo­li­tion or­ders re­quested by Burt. They in­clude prop­er­ties in North Syd­ney, Glace Bay, Donkin, Do­min­ion, Florence and Ir­ish Cove.

“Nor­mally we do the worst 10 every three months,” Burt said in an in­ter­view, not­ing that was de­layed a bit due to the fall elec­tions. “We’ve done a few that we’ve had waivers signed on that we didn’t re­quire any mu­nic­i­pal or­der be­cause the prop­erty owner had signed a waiver al­low­ing us to do it.”

Once a com­plaint is filed, staff in­spect and rate the prop­erty. The worst then go for­ward to coun­cil for ap­proval of de­mo­li­tion or­ders.

Once mo­tions to de­mol­ish are passed, 30-day de­mo­li­tion or­ders will be posted on the prop­er­ties. Own­ers then have that pe­riod to have the build­ing de­mol­ished them­selves. If no ac­tion is taken, the CBRM will is­sue a ten­der for the de­mo­li­tions. The cost is then placed as a tax lien on the prop­erty.

There is cur­rently an an­nual mu­nic­i­pal bud­get of $120,000 to deal with de­mo­li­tions.

“We all rec­og­nize that we could cer­tainly use some more money but the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has a lot of obli­ga­tions, so I think it’s still un­der re­view,” Burt said.

At its worst, Burt’s of­fice had as many as 900 files open, but has man­aged to whit­tle them down over the years. How­ever, he noted that as the lat­est 18 de­mo­li­tion or­ders are acted on, he knows that new com­plaints will be com­ing to take their place.

This va­cant home lo­cated at 159 Tobin Ave. in North Syd­ney is among 18 prop­er­ties for which the CBRM has is­sued de­mo­li­tion or­ders, as the mu­nic­i­pal­ity con­tin­ues to at­tempt to deal with dan­ger­ous and un­sightly premises.

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