The owner of a vacant house in Chilliwack has a few weeks to take action before demolition is ordered by City of Chilliwack.
The abandoned house at 9340 Williams Street has been deemed “a hazard and a nuisance to the community,” despite bylaw enforcement staff trying for months to obtain compliance from the owner, according to the staff report contained in the Sept. 21 agenda package.
The dilapidated property is covered in graffiti, with boarded-up windows and doors, and trash strewn across the property.
Council voted to impose a “remedial action requirement” on the absentee property owner at the Sept. 21 council meeting. Several steps are required prior to demolition, or removal.
“It has been determined by the assistant fire chief that the building is a fire and life safety hazard for both the fire department and trespassers who may inhabit the building,” the staff report said.
Trespassers and squatters regularly used the building.
The staff report paints a picture of neglect with broken down fences, garbage and debris strewn around, along with drug paraphernalia, human waste, tall grass and weeds.
“Despite attempts made by city staff to have the owner address these deficiencies, the owner has failed to comply.”
Covered under the Community Charter, the remedial action requirement means the registered owner will be able to address council at the next meeting, and make a plea for additional time to complete the remedial action, or for reconsideration of it.
Before it gets to this point City of Chilliwack has several mechanisms to deal with non-conforming vacant properties including various regulatory bylaws, such as the community standards bylaw, fire prevention bylaw, and the bylaw notice enforcement bylaw, according to city staff.
Under those bylaws, if a property is covered in graffiti for example, a $500 fine is issued, if compliance is not achieved in a reasonable time. Amounts owing will be placed on title via the courts if the fines go unpaid. If the house or outbuildings are not secured, a contractor is called in to secure the building, and a $500 fine will be issued. If unpaid, it gets added to their taxes.
When the mechanisms don’t achieve results, council can seek a remediation order for demolition, like it did in this case.
A copy of the council resolution of Sept. 21 was sent to the property owner on September 23 with instructions on how to proceed.
The property owner has until Oct. 26 to comply with the requirements of council resolution. They can seek a reconsideration until October 12.
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