A property on Second Avenue was taken over by feral cats earlier this year. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

A property on Second Avenue was taken over by feral cats earlier this year. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

City of Port Alberni agrees to demolish nuisance house on Second Avenue

Neighbours have made numerous complaints about house, squatters and feral cats

A residential building on Port Alberni’s Second Avenue is set to be demolished after months of complaints from neighbours.

Port Alberni City Council agreed during a council meeting on Monday, Nov. 26 to proceed under the Community Charter to declare the property a nuisance and require remedial action—in this case, demolition of the building.

Bylaw services manager Flynn Scott brought the matter to council after the building was put up for sale and advertised as a “fixer-upper.” He recommended a remedial action requirement, citing safety concerns and complaints from the neighbours.

“In my professional opinion, I believe this building does need to be demolished,” he said on Monday. “My concern is the well-being of the community.”

The house, located at 2622 Second Avenue, fell into disrepair after its owner, Henry Forbes, passed away at the beginning of the year, leaving no will for his estate. In May, a series of complaints “flooded” into the city’s bylaw department as the vacant building was unlawfully taken over by a new tenant, identified as Forbes’ son. Complaints involved “raw sewage” being emptied from windows, structural damage due to flooding, an infestation of fleas and upwards of 30 feral cats living on the property.

In June, a “Do Not Occupy” sign was placed on the structure as city staff identified 12 contraventions within the Building Standards Bylaw that were out of compliance. Feral cats were taken by the SPCA to be spayed/neutered, and were then returned.

The property has had several potential buyers express interest, but there has been no sale on the property, said Scott. Although the lawyer for the property recommended witholding a decision until the property is purchased, Scott disagreed. Demolition, he said, will be cheaper than restoring the building to meet health and safety standards.

Mayor Sharie Minions expressed her concern about the cost of the demolition. “The city is going to end up spending this money and that’s going to come back on us,” she said. “If there’s value in that Second Avenue lot beyond $40,000 is questionable, in my opinion. I have a real concern over spending that money if there is a potential sale.”

Scott replied that the estate’s lawyer has made it clear that there is “no money” to be put into the property. “Right now we can speak about potential buyers, we can speak about hypotheticals, but the reality is the lawyer is holding that estate,” he said. “If a sale goes through tomorrow…I’m more than happy to see that they’re willing to bring it up to compliance.”

City council agreed to declare the property a nuisance and require remedial action. After 30 days, the city will take on demolition—similar to the Arrowview Hotel situation, where the city is currently undergoing a formal bidding process for the demolition of the derelict hotel.

READ: City of Port Alberni to proceed with Arrowview Hotel demolition

Cost for demolition of the Second Avenue property is estimated at $40,000. If the building is purchased, the buyer has 14 days to make an appeal, which will come to council for a review.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com