Vacant building bylaw takes shape in Alberni

A vacant building bylaw with $1,000 permits, inspection requirements, fines and even jail time for violaters is in the works in Alberni.

Permits, inspections and fines will be the new order of the day for derelict buildings in Port Alberni.

Port Alberni city council voted to receive a building standards bylaw report from city planner Scott Smith about the initiative.

Businesses and the public aren’t fully aware of the implications of the byalw therefore the plan will go to a public consultation at a future date. Resource issues that give force and effect to the bylaw will also have to be addressed during budget discussions, Smith said.

Excerpts from the bylaw include owners will need to register vacant buildings with a $1,000 permit. Special safety and monitoring inspections are required. Violators will be fined between $100-$10,000 and or spend six months in jail.

The bylaw is a first in the community, Smith said.

“We can’t catch every piece of property with this, but we can sure catch some of them,” Coun. Jack McLeman said.

‘Vacant building’ was defined in Smith’s report as a building without a lawful occupant, or which is not being put to lawful commercial, residential or industrial use for 45 out of 60 days.

City manager Ken Watson clarified that a building can be boarded up but not vacant, that the doors and windows are in good repair.

Coun. Cindy Solda asked about fines and eye sore properties of absentee landlords, and specifically asking about tarped roofs like that on the former Tidebrook Hotel.

Watson replied that if property owners don’t comply then fines start to accumulate. He cautioned that vacant properties with tarped roofs need to be differentiated from those with leaky roofs mid-winter.

“The bylaw enforcement officer will visit the property and make the call,” Watson said.

McLeman asked if the bylaw will address the uptown core or people who don’t respect buildings. It’s not just one issue but rather a variety that comprise McLeman’s concerns, Smith replied.

“It will address uptown in some way but it’s not a magic bullet,” he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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