The Town of Lake Cowichan expects to take action soon on the first of four residential properties that have been identified as being in hazardous condition.
Joseph Fernandez, Lake Cowichan’s chief administrative officer, says they are currently looking at demolishing one derelict house on South Shore Road, as the Town moves forward with remedial orders on certain properties in Lake Cowichan.
“We’re making plans to demolish it; we’re just waiting for BC Hydro to turn off the power,” he explained Monday.
Once the Town demolishes this South Shore Road building — at the owner’s expense — it will deal with a derelict home on Cowichan Avenue next, according to Fernandez.
“We have two properties on Darnell Road and have draft reports on them, but I haven’t had a chance to review them,” he said. “That will give me an idea what to do next.”
The Town taking action against derelict homes has come about from public meetings held by council, explained Fernandez.
“This council’s had public meetings two times a year where the public had a chance to raise issues, and one of the things that kept coming up is the condition of buildings in the downtown area,” he said. “People asked what council was going to do.”
Fernandez says people wanted the Town to remediate or demolish run-down buildings, and the Town is starting with residential properties as part of a phased process.
“There are issues dealing with safety and the fact they were major eyesores,” he explained. “Those were the issues council felt they needed to deal with.”
Fernandez says people have seen youth go into the derelict buildings on South Shore Road and Cowichan Avenue, so safety is a big issue. He says the Town also considers these run-down buildings to be eyesores.
“It doesn’t make the town look very good when we have nice buildings and others that are not,” he said.
To help address run-down buildings, council has also introduced a Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw through which property owners can apply to receive a tax exemption for improvements made to their property for a period up to five years, explained Fernandez.
“We’re looking at that to maybe prompt these people to update their properties,” he said.
After a public meeting in early 2012 where residents raised concerns about dilapidated buildings scattered around Lake Cowichan, council received a report from Fernandez in late May that identified four run-down properties that were being inspected and outlined steps that the Town could take to remediate them.
In his May 28 report, Fernandez noted that four properties have been inspected; owners were served notice their buildings are in hazardous condition, they are a nuisance (derelict in appearance), and that action must be taken to rectify identified problems; the property owners, whose properties are located on Cowichan Avenue, South Shore Road and Darnell Road, have 14 days to appeal the findings and 30 days to take action; and if nothing happens, the Town will demolish the buildings at the owner’s expense.
The action now being taken by the Town is the result of that report.