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REPORTING · 26th January 2011
Walter McFarlane
20 Stikine burned in November. What is the fate of the building? What role will Council play in it's final months

Kitimat City Council opened on Monday, January 17th with a public hearing about a nuisance property, 20 Stikine St. No one wished to speak. So the ball went into Council’s Court.

The house became unsightly after a housefire. A letter was sent to the owner on the 24th of November and they had to bring it into compliance by the 24th of December. Council was advised to give a notice to title and 30 days to clean up the building by demolishing it or the work would be done by the District and the owner charged.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff moved to discuss this. “I’m a little bit surprised, this is a nuisance bylaw and yet we are talking about demolishing the building and doing so at our cost and charging the owner who has 30 days to get it done. The middle of winter, this does not sound right to me on a number of different fronts,” said Feldhoff.

Feldhoff wished to hear some of the explanation behind this. Municipal Manager Trafford Hall explained derelict buildings were a concern and municipalities had a responsibility to the neighbours when a property becomes dilapidated or unsafe.

Councillor Corrine Scott said the resident was given 30 days to clean up the site with the last day being December 24th. She said the first heavy snowfall was at the end of November. She said they were not being realistic because of all the snow which fell. She suggested giving 120 days.

Feldhoff clarified if the building was less safe than Nechako Centre. Hall said Nechako Centre was secured, this building was not. Councillor Randy Halyk wanted to know if an insurance company was involved.

Hall replied to Scott saying although the owner needs time to get the house in order, if someone were to make use of the unstable house and it were to collapse on someone, this is the worst case scenario. If after time, insurance and authorities do not act, it comes before Council.

Councillor Bob Corless pointed out the owner of the building had passed away a few years ago. Hall said they do not know all the circumstances but the house is unsafe. Council had to take an action.

Monaghan asked for a motion. Corless moved to give the thirty days. Feldhoff seconded it and quickly amended it to give it 90 days rather than 30. He hoped to give the owner a few more months to address the problems. He suggested they work to prevent people from entering in.

Hall pointed out this was a serious thing so the latter part of the motion was moved to a new motion. The amendment and the motion were carried. Feldhoff made his motion to secure the building at minimal cost.

Feldhoff said the District should spend a little bit of money boarding up the front door and window. Corless asked Fire Chief John Klie how damaged the building was. The door was missing, the back wall is missing and the windows are missing. It would be a lot of work to build it up.

Councillor Gerd Gottschling asked if missing walls could fall over and hurt someone. Klie replied there was damage to the building which could fall in case of an earthquake. “The building is definitely at risk right now, I would say,” said Klie.

Halyk asked if there was a way the building could be fenced. He suggested it would be part of the cost and protect the citizens dangers and protect themselves from the liabilities.

Corless pointed out they would be liable if someone got in as there was no insurance. Hall agreed as unsafe buildings become the responsibility of the District. The motion failed

Goffinet asked if they could reconsider the prior motion and reduce the number of days from 90 back down to 30. The motion was made and seconded. Corless suggested leaving the best way to proceed up to administration. However, administration wanted direction from Council.

Reconsideration was out of order but they could rescind the motion. After further discussion, the motion was rescinded, brought back and 30 days were given for the building to be torn down.