City council is cracking down on the owners of vacant buildings.
At its Monday meeting, council gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment that will impose stricter regulations on abandoned buildings.
Mayor Andy Adams said it’s been a long time coming.
“There are some members of the community who have been very anxious to see this come forward,” he said.
One of those is resident Darlyne Shane who asked council two years ago to consider a tougher stance on derelict buildings, as the cities of Penticton and Maple Ridge have done.
In Campbell River, under the new bylaw regulations, owners will have to ensure that all doors, windows and other openings on the basement and main floor levels are covered with a solid piece of plywood and secured with coated spikes.
The exterior of the building must be free of graffiti and all outside walls must be free of holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards and they must be periodically painted with a protective coating such as paint or stain to prevent deterioration.
City Clerk Peter Wipper said the city’s bylaw officers will be doing proactive inspections to ensure vacant buildings that have fallen into disrepair are abiding by the new rules.
He said once the city receives a complaint, the officer will conduct an inspection and if it has not met the maintenance requirements the building will be added to a vacant premises registry. The property owner will then be notified in writing that they have 30 days to bring the property into compliance or be subject to a fine or remedial action.
“Bylaw officers will conduct proactive inspections of the property every three months to ensure that the premises remain secure and continue to meet required maintenance standards,” Wipper said. “The property owner will be billed $50 for every inspection required.”
Properties will be removed from the vacant premises registry if it remains in compliance for one year.
However, if the property falls into disrepair again, it will go back on the registry for two years. The owner again has 30 days to comply or face another penalty. Regular, three-month inspections will resume with the owner again being charged $50 per inspection.
Wipper said in Penticton, which has a similar vacant building bylaw, that 25 buildings were originally put on their vacant building registry but today there are only three.
“Property owners quickly realize that it’s in their best interest to maintain their buildings instead of paying inspection fees,” Wipper said.
Stricter rules on vacant buildings were prompted by complaints from residents in recent years over abandoned homes.
The infamous dilapidated home on the corner of Cheviot and Petersen drew such ire from neighbours that they threatened to burn the abandoned home down on Halloween night in 2014. The home was ordered torn down by the city just weeks later.
A home in the 500 block of Colwyn Street has also in the past frustrated neighbours who complained that the unkempt property and derelict vehicles at the home were an eyesore in their neighbourhood.
Abandoned homes, notably two along the South Island Highway, have also been targets for vandals.