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Village of Granisle orders derelict buildings demolished

Buildings considered unsafe and an eyesore
Close up photo shows the condition of one of the two buildings the Village of Granisle has ordered demolished. (Village of Granisle photo)

The Village of Granisle has ordered the owner of two derelict buildings to demolish the structures and if not, the village will do the work itself and recover the costs from the owner.

The decision was reached via a village council resolution in July, putting in motion a 90-day clock for the owner of the properties at 82 Hagen St. to first apply for a demolition permit, to have one issued and then to carry out the work followed by cleaning up waste, debris and discarded material.

It ends years of effort by the village to have the owner undertake repairs to what is being described as the North and South buildings on the Hagen St. property which once housed a variety of businesses in a mini-mall format.

The move by the Village comes under the authority provided by the provincial Community Charter which governs the actions of local governments.

Should the owner not carry out the Village demolition order and should the Village then have the work done instead, the charter enables the village to bill the owner in the same fashion as it does property taxes.

This course of action, however, has already been taken by the Village once before when it removed a wooden overhang from the North building in 2019. That took place when the owner failed to follow through after being issued a remedial action requirement.

The owner was then invoiced for the cost of the work but, based on a Jan. 9, 2020 letter sent by the village’s lawyers to the owner, that invoice went unpaid.

“These amounts plus applicable taxes, interest and penalties will be added in the 2020 tax notice for the property if not paid beforehand,” the letter from the law firm of Young Anderson stated.

“A failure to pay these taxes in arrear, plus all interest and penalties accruing, before Sept. 27 2021 will result in the property being sold at tax sale.”

In deciding to order the two buildings demolished, council was added by a building inspection carried out by a Smithers company late last year. The company assembled a long list of repairs needed for each building ranging from replacing deteriorated concrete blocks to replacing membranes on roofs to prevent further leaks.

But village staffers looked at the assessed values of the buildings and in a memo to council as part of a lengthy package of information concluded “estimates of the cost of repairing the buildings far exceed the assessed value of the buildings.”

And as part of the council motion it declared “the buildings to be a nuisance …. because the buildings are so dilapidated and unclean so as to be offensive to the community.”

The Village has so far declined to comment on the action undertaken by the council or whether the owner has responded, but a timeline included as part of the information package released in July indicates it has been trying, unsuccessfully, to have the buildings maintained and/or repaired since 2001.

“No action has been taken to suggest that the owner will repair, renovate and use either of the buildings in the future,” part of the information package to council stated.

The package also traced the ownership of the structures and property, revealing there was a sale in June of this year in which ownership passed from one numbered company to another.

“The registered officers and directors of both the current owner and the former owner are Eric Ng and Raymond Ng. The address listed on title for the registered owners is in Surrey, B.C. and did not change with the transfer of the title from the former owner to the current owner,” the information package added.

(A subsequent search of the address by The Lakes District News indicates it is the place of business of Superior City Services Ltd. described on its website as a firm doing business in B.C. and in Alberta for “street cleaning, water hauling, hydro digging, pipeline cleaning and inspections or pipeline trenchless rehabs ….”)

Based on the timeline presented to council, the Village expressed an interest in buying a portion of 82 Hagen St. in 2015 based on just the value of the land on which the two buildings sit. Its intent then was to demolish the two buildings. That proposal did not result in a conclusion.

The Village even solicited the assistance of former NDP MP Nathan Cullen who, in a 2007 letter, urged the owner to fix up the buildings.

The condition of the buildings further drew the attention of Northern Health which had been leasing a building at 82 Hagen St. as a health unit for the area. It complained about the buildings going back to 2017.

This year, after stating it was unable to reach a renewed lease agreement with the property owner, Northern Health announced it had reached another agreement, this time with School District 91 to move to a space within Babine Elementary Secondary School. Renovations are now underway.

“The property owner ultimately issued a notice to vacate, in mid-2019,” said Eryn Collins from Northern Health.

The concerns raised were about the two buildings the village now wants demolished and there were no health and safety concerns with the building the health centre is now preparing to leave, she added.