Demolition work has already halted at the Arrowview Hotel, and new owner Stan Pottie says he’s “walking away” from the project.
Pottie, of DJ Excavating in Lantzville, was presented with a stop work order by WorkSafe BC on Oct. 16 for “disturbance of asbestos-containing material” without control.
Pottie says there is a “minor” amount of asbestos in the building, mostly in the glue that was used to patch holes in the roof.
But after receiving a full report from the city on Wednesday, Pottie says that he will not be continuing with demolition due to the cost of taking the building down.
“I got a report from the city,” he explained. “I couldn’t figure out why nobody else could do anything. Now I know. To be all lawful it would cost $500,000. It’s not worth that.”
The estimated cost of demolition has been widely publicized as former owner Ray Letourneau fought with Port Alberni City Council over his plans for the hotel. The building, once featured in the movie Insomnia starring the late Robin Williams, has languished at the site for well over a decade. Following a fire in 2017 it has been steadily falling into disrepair.
Pottie says he will be talking with his lawyer to determine what his next steps are.
“I’m walking away,” he said. “I’m not pursuing this building.”
Pottie added that he never saw this report before he started demolishing the building.
City CAO Tim Pley said late Thursday that he was unaware Pottie is pulling out of the deal to demolish the derelict building.
“I’m not aware of that,” Pley said, adding that the last time he and Pottie spoke was Wednesday, when Pottie told him he was working on a plan to get the stop work order lifted so he could proceed with the demolition.
Pley disputed Pottie’s claim about not seeing reports on the building. “He got the initial reports the day he purchased the property,” Pley said. “He got the recommended work plan yesterday (Oct. 16).”
Some of the plans were part of the public request for proposals (RFP) issued last June for the building, which came with clear conditions that the city requires the nuisance building to be demolished down to the first floor, Pley said.
“He knew when he bought it that it was going to come down.”
Pottie was issued a demolition permit one week ago, on Oct. 9, and began dismantling some of the interior over the Thanksgiving weekend. Boards over lower windows were removed and an excavator moved in on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Under conditions of the demolition permit, Pottie has 60 days to tear down the building before the city moves in. “That remains in place,” Pley said.
The stop work order prohibits anyone accessing the property “except a qualified consultant with approval.”
Pley said if the building is unsecure the city would look at it from a security standpoint and go from there.