Vacant buildings in Chilliwack will have to be dealt with quicker

They’ve tightened up rules so broken into buildings must be secured in a day, not a week

Changes at Chilliwack city hall mean building owners will have to secure vacant buildings faster. (The Progress file)

Changes at Chilliwack city hall mean building owners will have to secure vacant buildings faster. (The Progress file)

Squatters who break into vacant buildings will be dealt with faster from now on.

Chilliwack property owners now have a shorter timeframethan they used for boarding up and securing vacant buildings.

Council voted recently to reduce the timeframe from seven days to just 24 hours.

The problem was the fact that vacant buildings often became a target for tresspassers, squatters and arsonists committing illegal acts and creating a nuisance, according to the staff report to council last month.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz stated the changes “seem to make sense” and will lead to better protection of the community overall.

Previously the activities in vacant buildings sometimes placed “unnecessary increased pressure” on fire department, bylaw and police, according to the report.

“Authority is also given for the immediate securing of a building if the owner cannot be contacted within twenty-four hours, or if leaving the building unsecured createsan immediate hazard.”

“Additionally, the proposed Bylaw amendment includes authorization to other City of Chilliwack employees, such as Building Inspectors and members of the RCMP, to enforce the sections of the bylaw relating to vacant and unsecured buildings. This will increase staff’s ability to efficiently deal with vacant and unsecured buildings in our community.

The changes are on heels of concerns from fire, bylaw and members of the public.