Fires, garbage, weeds and squatting became such a problem that city officials are seeking the demolition a row of abandoned old houses near downtown.
The City of Chilliwack has fielded dozens of complaints about the boarded-up properties at 45870, 45888, and 45894 Henderson Avenue since 2017. The properties are owned by 641474 BC Ltd. of Surrey.
Council voted Tuesday to pursue a remediation order under Sections 72 to 74 of the Community Charter requiring the property owner to take action quickly to address the nuisance created by the run-down and unsafe condition of the houses.
The structures are falling apart and have been used by squatters. There is garbage and unsightly debris around the houses which have been deemed hazardous. The properties are considered unsightly, and a nuisance to the neighbourhood.
Bylaw officials have been trying to get compliance with city bylaws from the owners, to no avail.
The property owners of the three vacant houses has 30 days to fence the properties and demolish the structures. They can also apply to address council and request more time.
“The owners have verbally confirmed and indicated through inaction that they are not concerned about the activities occurring on the property, and have no interest in remedying the unsightly and hazardous conditions,” according to the staff report.
The remediation order requires the owner to fully enclose the perimeter with a two-metre high fence, demolish or remove the buildings, and “clean up or otherwise deal with the unsightly condition” of the properties within a month of receiving the resolution of council.
The owners applied to build an apartment building on the site in October 2017, and since then numerous unsightly complaints have been made, and the property has been constantly used by squatters, something the owner has said is not his responsibility.
The Chilliwack Fire Department has dealt with burning inside buildings on the properties five times in 2018, on Jan. 14, April 11, Sept. 7, Oct. 1 and Nov. 30. In many of those incidents, firefighters complained about difficulty accessing the building because of overgrown bushes on the properties.
Should the owner fail to comply, the city or its contractor can enter the property to complete the work.
The staff report stated:
“It has been determined from the bylaw inspections that overgrown bushes, weeds and tall grass along with the collection of garbage and debris, which are now attracting and providing a haven for vermin, rats and other pests, are causing considerable concern to the health and safety of those living in the neighbourhood.
“In addition, the Assistant Fire Chief considers the building to be a fire and life safety hazard for both Fire Department and trespassers who may inhabit this property. Despite attempts made by City staff to have the owner address these deficiencies, the owner has failed to comply.”