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Little Ave. owner says he'll fight on

ONE OWNER of a Little Ave. building ordered demolished by the city last week says he’ll fight the decision.

George Vogel, who manages 4450 Little Ave. on behalf of the estate of Bertha Vogel, his mother, says he’s staying put.

“They have no right to force me out,” he said following the city decision giving owners of three Little Ave. properties 60 days to tear down the structures and clean up the properties.

“This is a single family private residence,” he said, noting that he has been working on cleaning up the property, and has plans to turn the east wing of the building into a green house and the north wing into a garage. Vogel lives in the building with three other people.

“I know it’s not the best, but its not as bad as it’s portrayed,” he said of the Second World War-era structure. “The photos that are in the report are over six months old.”

Nearly 100 pages of information, report and photos regarding health, safety and structural problems at all three properties were provided to council members last week.

Vogel he says he could have had more work done if the city had agreed to issue him a building permit.

“It’s a Catch-22 and a set up from the get-go,” he said, noting there are many properties in the area that aren’t complying with city bylaws.

“At the meeting, one of the councillors said the windows should be boarded up. But I had them boarded up before the city told me to un-board them, which I did.”

But while he has plans to continue living in the building while fighting city hall, Vogel also said he is willing to sell the property, and listed it with a realtor about a month ago.

He extended an offer to the city to purchase the land and structure at the council meeting last Monday. “They can buy it if they want to,” he said of a list price of $179,000.

He said he would accept a fair price on the property, but doesn’t believe the latest assessment of the property is accurate when you consider the size of the lot and how much properties in the neighbourhood have sold for.

The three properties in question are worth three very different amounts, according to BC Assessment.

4440 Little Ave. is assessed at $43,000 for the 36,380 sq. ft. lot, while 4520 Little Ave. is assessed at $161,900 for 32,336 sq. ft. and 4450 Little Ave. is assessed at $72,300.

And 4455 Park Ave, one block south of Vogel’s property, sold for $168,700 last October.

If the city ends up tearing his property down, Vogel says he would be in a bad situation as his mother’s estate could not afford to pay taxes on the vacant lot.

This means the city could eventually try to claim his property, he said.

The city has said that if the owners do not comply with the tear-down order they will do it for them and send them the bill.

The property owners have 14 days after the demolition order was issued to file an appeal.

One of the others, Lloyd Wittkowski who owns 4440 Little Ave., says he will comply with the tear down order.

“I’ll tear it down in the spring,” he said.

“The problem nowadays is you can’t burn it (the debris) you have to haul it away,” he said. “But there’s lumber I can salvage, lots of starter wood.”

He doesn’t expect the process to be too costly.

“I have an excavator and two sons, they will help me,” he said. “God gives and God takes it away, and you can’t fight city hall.”

Attempts to contact Wayne and Sandra Kirby, owners of the third Little Ave. building ordered town down, 4520 Little Ave., were unsuccessful.

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