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New West to consider “horror show” in the Brow of the Hill

"It's a wreck."

Some Brow of the Hill residents are hoping the city will take action to deal with a “death trap” in their neighbourhood.

Neighbours of a property at 509 11th St. have contacted city hall numerous times in recent years to voice concerns about the derelict house.

“It’s a horror show,” said a neighbour, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Unsightly doesn’t really say enough. You won’t believe it when you see it. It’s got to be a death trap, it has to be.”

In addition to being unsightly, neighbours believe the property is a safety hazard.

“I can’t believe that anybody would sign off on this from a safety point of view. Obviously, this is really upsetting when this is your neighbourhood. I am also sure it’s a safety issue,” said a neighbour. “What’s to stop a kid walking in there, or an animal or something like that, because it’s open?”

Not only do neighbours have view of the “wreck” of a house, said the resident, but they’re often unable to find on-street parking near the property.

 “They have pretty much taken up one side of the street in front of our building, “said the neighbour. “None of us park there, none of our guests can park there.”

At its Monday, Nov. 20 meeting, city council will consider a staff report outlining a series of actions to be taken at the house and will give the property owner an opportunity to address the city’s concerns. Staff is recommending the owner either submit a complete application for the appropriate building, plumbing, natural gas and electrical permits, and perform a list of remedial works or apply for a demolition permit and demolish the house.

According to a staff report, remedial work that must be done to the house includes: repairing or replacing external drainage and the internal sanitary drainage system; repairing or replacing missing or deteriorated wood framing; repairing or replacing the furnace; removing broken glass from window frames on the ground floor of the house and installing new windows; sealing the house to prevent the intrusion of vermin; repairing and replacing the siding, stucco and soffits; repairing the interior hallway ceiling on the main floor; removing the tarp from the top of the house; and replacing the roof.

Staff is also recommending that the owner be required to remove the scaffolding surrounding the house and graffiti on the garage within 31 days, complete the remedial actions within 120 days or submit a demolition application within 31 days. The owners must also remove all waste, debris and discarded materials from the property.

A staff report states the city has received a number of complaints about the property since 2011, including concerns about the dilapidated condition of the house, the scaffolding that was erected in 2012 when the roof was being repaired, unsecured tarps on the roof, raccoons and rats nesting in the top floor of the house, unkempt condition of the property and unsightly storage of materials and graffiti on the garage. The report states that bylaw enforcement officers have issued compliance orders and fines to the owner to comply with the unsightly premises bylaw, but the owner has not complied.

City officials have inspected the house and identified issues such as stagnant water in the basement, black mould in the wood framing in the basement, broken windows, a collapsing ceiling in the hallway on the main floor and openings in the house that allow “raccoons and other vermin” to get inside.

“B.C. Assessment valued the house and garage at $60,500. The cost to repair the house is expected to exceed the assessed building value. Given the condition of the house and low building value, demolition may be a preferred option,” said the report.

Action to address the house can’t come quick enough for some of its neighbours.

“It’s a house. It’s a building. It’s hard to tell what it is – it’s a wreck,” said the neighbour. “It has been like that for a long time. If that was your view of that haunted house, how horrible would that be? “