Under the wrecking ball
CBRM a leader in derelict buildings
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.