City looking into derelict and vacant properties

City looking into derelict and vacant properties

Councillor Paul Harris said the properties present challenges in Red Deer

The City of Red Deer will be looking into vacant and derelict properties in response to a Notice of Motion brought forward by Councillor Paul Harris.

“There’s a number of buildings in our City, particularly in our downtown which are causing a negative influence both on economic development, on crime and safety,” said Harris.

He said for him it was important to take this forward as they approach the end of this municipal term to make sure there’s some action being taken.

“We don’t have a Derelict Buildings Bylaw in the City of Red Deer, and so we need to have one in place. We need to upgrade our Community Standards Bylaw so that we can really address derelict buildings when they are causing a draw on our economic development, and we need to make some changes to the Municipal Government Act to allow us to have stronger teeth and more levers to pull,” he said.

He said they don’t, for example, have any ability to change the tax rate on a building that’s causing a negative impact on the community.

When it comes to particular buildings that stand out, Harris said one would just need to walk through the downtown to see some that are sitting vacant and have been vacant for the last 20 years.

“Some of them you can smell, there’s so much mold in them.”

He pointed out one particular building on 48th Ave. near Saros Restaurant that’s been boarded up for nearly 20 years that so bad, one can smell mold coming out of it, among other negative implications.

“People are taking down the boarding and they’re going into that building and they’re using it to feed their addictions,” he said, among other negative activities.

Although that particular building is now boarded up, it can still cause problems in the community.

“That’s just one, there are many in this community, not just in the downtown, but throughout our community that really have a negative influence.”

With Harris’ fellow councillors in support of his motion, administration was directed to explore all options, including changes to the Community Standards Bylaw and enforcement practices that will allow the City to use mechanisms like condemning, expropriating or removing vacant and derelict properties. Council will also request the Ministers of Municipal Affairs and Economic Development revise legislation such as the Municipal Government Act to enable municipalities to deal with vacant and derelict properties.