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Demolition order extension bid refused

The owner of two derelict homes the city has ordered demolished has failed in a bid to extend the deadline in which to do the work. In asking for the extension, Joanne Ratchford, the owner of 4507 Lazelle Ave. and 4509 Lazelle Ave.
One of the four derelict houses on Lazalle Ave. on the morning of Friday July 5.

The owner of two derelict homes the city has ordered demolished has failed in a bid to extend the deadline in which to do the work.

In asking for the extension, Joanne Ratchford, the owner of 4507 Lazelle Ave. and 4509 Lazelle Ave. located in the alleyway behind St. Matthew's Anglican Church, told council that having 30 days to obtain all of the necessary permits and inspections and then to line up a contractor simply wasn't long enough.

She requested an additional 120 days which would have extended obeying the demolition order into the fall.

In speaking to council June 24, Ratchford listed a number of actions already taken, some of which took place before receiving the 30-day demolition order from the city on May 31.

Those actions began at 4507 Lazelle Ave. when she began having the house guttled in late March.

"It was this building that was most seriously damaged during the RCMP's visit," she said of an early March police raid. "In fact, it was actually lit on fire."

"So I was trying to see what was left of it, whether I could fix it or whether it was done for."

The city's demolition order on that property and at next-door 4509 Lazelle followed after inspections by city officials, including the fire chief and building inspector.

Ratchford said she has already arranged for utilities to be shut off and has had building material samples sent away for testing to determine if hazardous substances were present.

She also recounted unsuccessful attempts to find a contractor to undertake the demolition of the buildings until finally finding someone who could do the work this month.

"I believe I've just demonstrated my willingness to comply with the orders," she said. "The challenge is to meet a very short timeline, 30 days."

Council members, in considering Ratchford's request, relied on advice and recommendations from city development services director David Block who felt that a 120 day extension was too long.

He said that even if the 30-day period expires without any demolition, that doesn't mean the city would take immediate action.

"If the owner is taking action, the goal is compliance. It takes a lot of staff capacity and time to do some of those things you heard," he said. "The reality is if the owner is making actions and is clearly moving towards compliance, we will support them and encourage them to comply."

Block did tell council there could be a delay regardless should hazardous material such as lead paint or asbestos be found.

"To take any demolition, household, construction waste to the landfill, you have to prove that there is not asbestos or lead paint. You have to have sampling, testing for your materials," he said.

And, Block continued, Ratchford would also need a demolition permit from the city.

Instead of 120 days, councillors debated providing a 60-day extension as moved by councillor Chris Apps and seconded by councillor Dave Gordon.

Given the circumstance, Apps said a 60-day extension seemed reasonable.

Councillor James Cordeiro, however, said he could not accept the extension.

"I think it's been demonstrated that these structures have been problematic for a number of years and it took a significant issue to really move forward with this," he said.

"I'm confident that the staff have enough judgement to be able to determine whether momentum is carrying forward, even it's past the 30 days before they take action."

In a resulting vote, Apps voted against his own motion, explaining that he accepted the reasons to stick with the original 30 day order. He was joined by Gordon and Cordeiro. Councillors Inder Dhillon and Brian Downie were in favour as was councillor Sarah Zimmerman who chaired the June 24 council meeting as the acting mayor. Because of a tie, the motion failed, meaning the original 30-day order stands.

An attempt by Dhillon to provide Ratchford with a 30-day extension failed because there was no seconder.

Ratchford actually has more than 30 days to comply with the demolition order. That's because while the compliance deadline 30-day clock began ticking down on May 31, the day she was served the order, Ratchford appealed on June 10. This stopped the clock until she appeared before council on June 24 whereupon the clock began ticking again. That 14-day period, in effect, is then added to the original 30 days.













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