“It’s been a long process,” said Lake Cowichan Coun. Tim McGonigle as he and colleagues voted to call in the heavy equipment to deal with several derelict buildings in town.
These include buildings located where Neva and MacDonald Roads end, just south of Highway 18, plus a building at 182 Neva Rd., called “a major eyesore”.
All have been the subject of requests and discussions at Lake Cowichan council tables for some time, and Town CAO Joe Fernandez presented a report Aug. 28 that urged councillors to take some action, following the procedures set out in the Community Charter. They followed his advice.
“With the public’s concerns regarding vacant buildings, their dilapidated condition, as well as concerns about public safety, council has directed staff at various times to seek voluntary compliance from the property owners that are the subject of remedial orders,” Fernandez said.
Talking about the buildings on Neva Road just south of Highway 18, Fernandez said, “The owner or owners of the buildings have ignored directives from this office on remedying unsafe and hazardous conditions on the property under section 72 and 73 of the Community Charter and these despite the Town’s compliance with process requirements spelled out under sections 76, 77, and 78 of the Community Charter.
“There is one vacant building (civic address 226 Neva Rd.) that is unstable and which must be removed promptly. With council’s approval, a hazardous material assessment will be conducted on the building with a call for proposals to have the building removed issued. All attendant costs relating to the remedial action will be assessed against the owners of the property as provided for under section 80 of the Community Charter.”
The other building nearby, located at 250 Neva Rd. near Highway 18 is also slated for demolition.
“The above property will require a hazard material assessment with demolition to occur soon after. In the meantime, the building will have to be boarded [up],” Fernandez said.
The final building, located at 182 Neva Rd. is, Fernandez said, “not fit for human habitation at this time [and is] so dilapidated and unsafe with accessibility to the public at large that it has the potential to create hazardous conditions for the general public and particularly the neighbours. The back of the house has caved in and a large tree has grown through the back of the house. It is a major eyesore. Staff has directed that a hazardous material assessment be conducted on the building.
“The owner of the ‘residence’ has ignored directives from this office on remedying unsafe and hazardous conditions on the property…Council authorization is required to issue a call for proposals to demolish and remove the building.”
McGonigle reiterated, too, that the Town has attempted, while dealing with this difficult issue, to keep in mind the dignity of property owners and to give them time to reply to requests for action.
Asked later when the wrecking ball might start work on the derelict J.H. Boyd School, Mayor Ross Forrest could only say that the Town “is working on it.”