Old Safeway property in downtown Chilliwack up for demolition

'It would be very difficult for council to support in any way the ongoing neglect of this property,' said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

The word 'eyesore' comes up repeatedly in Chilliwack when discussing downtown's old Safeway building on Main Street. It's finally expected to meet the wrecking ball after years of neglect.

The old Safeway building on Main Street has been an eyesore for a long time in Chilliwack.

Action could finally be taken as early as next week.

The boarded-up storefront, on a property that takes up an entire city block of prime real estate, is seen as pivotal in the revitalization of the downtown core.

City of Chilliwack and CEPCO officials tried to work with the former Safeway ownership for years, and also with the current owners, Sobeys, to take accountability for the inexorable decline of the property — to no avail.

The wrecking ball is likely next.

The word “eyesore” comes up repeatedly when talking about this property, and the feeling around town is that it should be properly maintained — or sold.

The storefront has been boarded up for years. There are broken windows, and peeling paint.

Graffiti tags show up out front and are painted over quickly. There have been numerous vandalism and mischief incidents.

City officials confirmed they are ready to take the next step, and a council resolution is expected as early as next week to require owners to fence the structures, with plans to demolish the buildings within 90 days, under section 74 of the Community Charter.

“It would be very difficult for council to support in any way the ongoing neglect of this property,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

“Other communities are watching too, as this is a situation many struggle with in terms of downtown redevelopment.”

Part of why it is significant and urgent, is that any redevelopment of the downtown is thought to hinge on this centralized site being transformed, which city officials have been told by consultants.

And the property has become a nuisance, a fire hazard and an increasingly urgent problem.

Sobeys officials confirmed in an email to the Progress last month, that they had received a bylaw package from City of Chilliwack to apply for the vacant building permit, and said they are “working with city officials.”

But that was all. Asked if in fact the property was for sale, the spokesperson wouldn’t confirm either way.

“We have nothing further to share publicly on this piece of property at this time,” said Keri Scobie, communications manager for Sobeys West.

Even if the property was listed for sale, the owners would still be subject to the minimum standards bylaw, said city staff.

The company listed as the property owner, SDL Snocap Ltd., was issued two fines of $500 each, with an outstanding amount of $1000 for failing to obtain vacant building permits, staff said.

New vacant buildings legislation has minimum maintenance standards, geared to bringing buildings that are unsightly, run down and not suitable for occupancy into compliance.

The city tried to get voluntary compliance, but in the absence of it, they moved ahead with fines and now ready to consider a demolition order.

At the scene recently, a bank employee who works nearby, commented that many people he spoke to said they were tired of inaction on the old Safeway site.

“It’s become an eyesore,” he noted echoing the mayor’s description.

City sent a bylaw package to Sobeys officials with the requirement they obtain a “vacant building regulation permit,” for the two vacant buildings on the site, as per the minimum maintenance standards bylaw that council originally passed in 2014.

The legislation the city drafted in part was to deal with precisely these sorts of situations: absentee property owners or landlords with properties falling into disrepair. These are properties that fail to contribute to the downtown plan to transform downtown Chilliwack into an “attractive and vibrant” neighbourhood.

City officials at press time had still been unsuccessful in getting Sobeys to apply for a Vacant Building Regulation Permit.

“Although there are no fast or simple solutions to renewing a city centre, we believe redevelopment of this property, in accordance with the downtown plan, would have a positive impact on the area,” added Gaetz.

It should either be redeveloped by the current owners, or sold.

“It’s what everyone sees downtown. It’s an eyesore,” Gaetz said. “Worse is that it is robbing people of hope for any real redevelopment, and it needs to be dealt with.”

Once it comes before council, the demolition order is expected to sail through because the whole situation has been stuck in low-gear for years.

“We’re left with a sense of frustration. But if the resolution passes, then the people of this community will know that council intends to have this building gone,” Gaetz said.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame reveals Class of 2019

Longtime Chilliwack Curling Club manager Bruce Renwick is being inducted as a builder.

Table games like Blackjack coming this fall for Chances Chilliwack

Council approved the move to add live-dealer table games with a vote of 3-2

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police says case is now in the hands of the coroner

Kent quarry opposition receives federal support

Green Party leader Elizabeth May wrote to the provincial government to oppose the quarry application

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen ever tagged and released in the Fraser

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Two Vancouver police officers bitten, scratched after ‘violent’ arrest

Police will recommend charges against a 50-year-old man

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Police watchdog investigating two officers after Langley teen’s suspected overdose

According to IIO, two officers were deployed to help Carson Crimeni but did not locate him before he died

UPDATED: Kelly Ellard gets day parole extended for six more months, overnight leave

Kelly Ellard was convicted of killing 14-year-old Reena Virk in 1997

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Most Read