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Property owner given more time to tear down building
A THIRD Little Ave. property owner has been given more time to tear down his building and clean up his yard.
George Vogel was given an extension of 120 days after making an appeal to council last night.
Council had earlier given two other Little Ave. property owners more time to tear down their buildings after they also appealed demolition orders issued by the city late last year.
Council cited the derelict nature of all three properties and worried about health and safety in ordering their demolition. Those orders were first issued the end of November 2012.
George Vogel, the manager of 4450 Little Ave. on behalf of his mother's estate, said he has been making improvements to the building in which he lives along with one tenant but has limited resources.
“It's unfair,” said Vogel.
Due to time, weather, financial and other constraints, Vogel said it was unreasonable for the city to expect him to tear down his home and clean up his yard in such a short time period.
He added truckloads of garbage have been take to the dump already pointing to cleanup progress since the initial order was issued.
Vogel said various building permit applications have been denied, leaving him to wonder how we could make improvements without having the necessary permits.
He said he felt the city has wanted his building torn down long before the order was issued, saying he encountered a stranger on his property taking measurements last summer who said he worked for the city, but was not driving a city vehicle.
“I think there's a current somehow underlying this,” said Vogel.
City staff and council members said it was not a city employee on Mr. Vogel's property.
Vogel's building is also for sale, and he added that while it hasn't sold yet he's met some people who have shown interest in fixing it up. The building was built as officers' quarters when the Canadian Army had several thousand troops stationed here during the Second World War.
Vogel has also taken in tenants on occasion and the renter currently living there pointed out that not all of them paid and that Vogel has provided food from his own pocket before.
In response to appeals, the city's director of development services David Block said that permit applications must show viable plans contributing to structural integrity – ideally made by a professional to ensure improvements are safe.
He also added that while various permits had been applied for, some were granted but did not apply to the whole building.
Much of the building is not up to code and Vogel shouldn't have tenants living there, said Block.
Councillor Marylin Davies commended Vogel for “humanitarian efforts” for taking in people who might otherwise have nowhere else to live.
She did note, however, that council is bound to operate within legislation and pointed to a history of complaints dating back decades.
Councillor Bruce Bidgood said the way building permits were issued seemed somewhat muddy, suggesting that council provide enough time for Vogel to fix up his residence and yard.
Block noted bringing the building up to code could take up to two years.
Councillor Lynne Christiansen emphasized that issues with the property have been ongoing.
“I just think that its not like this problem has just come up,” she said. “It's just been going on for way too long.”
She did commend Vogel for his compassionate motives to care for people.
“(But) when it's not safe and it's not healthy it's not a good situation to even put them in,” she said.
Mayor Dave Pernarowski emphasized council was dealing with two legal issues during the hearing, safety and whether the appearance of the building is offensive.
In the end, council voted to extend all aspects of the initial demolition and cleanup order by 120 days in a 3 – 1 vote, with Pernarowski, Davies and Christiansen voting in favour and Bidgood voting against.
"I felt that the refusal to issue a building permit would merit a six month period to address all of the documented deficiencies in the property," said Bidgood after the meeting.