News Local

Derelict Barrie buildings could be demolished 29 

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 8:58:30 EDT PM

Empty buildings similar to the Lake Simcoe Motel on Blake Street have gained the attention of city councillors. In the future, owners could be required to demolish and grade the land, so it complies with Barrie property standards. MARK WANZEL PHOTO

Empty buildings similar to the Lake Simcoe Motel on Blake Street have gained the attention of city councillors. In the future, owners could be required to demolish and grade the land, so it complies with Barrie property standards. MARK WANZEL PHOTO

 

Empty Barrie buildings could be in the city's cross-hairs.

Staff could look into the feasibility of requiring their owners to maintain the buildings in a condition suitable to be occupied, city councillors decided Oct. 28.

But if a building is derelict for an extended time period, the owner could be required to demolish it and grade the land, so it complies with Barrie property standards.

That would also be part of the city staff investigation.

The motion comes from Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth, who's had enough of at least one vacant building in Barrie.

“We have been waiting for several years now for the Lake Simcoe Motel on Blake Street to be restored or replaced,” she said. “As of today this boarded-up building, even though the owner is pretty much complying with property standards yard maintenance regulations, gives our neighbourhood an undeserved black eye.

“I have been unable to find any ordinance requiring moving ahead with reconstruction or demolition of this property.”

The Ward 1 councillor's original motion specified demolishing buildings vacant for more than a year, but that was softened to abandoned or deserted for an extended period of time.

While a majority of councillors supported the investigation, some had doubts Ainsworth's intentions could be met.

“I'm not sure we can order a building demolished if it is not up to code,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.”I could not support this, but I understand what you are trying to do.

“But if they (buildings) are not in a safe condition, they should be made safe.”

Staff's report is expected to identify whether or not the city has the authority to require demolition, as well as recommended time frames.

Ainsworth said her motion could work throughout the city, not just in her east-end ward.

“Council has supported investing millions of dollars over several years to rejuvenate the City Centre,” she said. “Allowing vacant and derelict buildings to stand tall year after year in the downtown is in direct contradiction to this revitalization initiative.

“This motion might be viewed as a little heavy handed by some, but it is where I would like staff to begin their research and feasibility study.”

Ainsworth said she expects it to outline options to mitigate the vacant building situation city-wide, and include an escape clause - requiring approval by council for exceptions and time-line extensions under extenuating circumstances.

“A case in point being our own Allandale Train Station buildings, where work was stalled by influences beyond the control of the owner,” she said.

Council will consider final approval of Ainsworth's motion to have staff investigate these options at its Nov. 4 meeting.

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca