Friday, May 5, 2017

Few options available to Council to force Clean Up of downtown eyesores

The condition of the Old totem theatre
building and other downtown eyesores
was on the mind of Councillor
Barry Cunningham last week
The theme of the appearance of some of the city's downtown properties once again made an appearance at last week's Prince Rupert City Council session, as Councillor Barry Cunningham returned to a theme he has raised in the past.

Last week, Mr. Cunningham asked city staff what options the city has when it comes to addressing local property owners in the downtown area and the lack of attention they have been putting forward when it comes to the properties.

"We have some buildings in town here that are very unsightly, the old Totem Theatre and things like that. They're up for sale, some of them for half a million dollars and I'm wondering if we can contact the owners and at least get them to steam clean them, or clean up the outside, or get them to look half decent. 

You know we're on this Redesign, or rebuild Rupert and every time you turn a corner there's a bloody ugly building looking at you and I see no reason why, if they are being sold for those types of prices they can't spend a little bit of money fixing them up"

The City Manager Robert Long offered up some thoughts on the issue, though his answer probably wasn't quite what Mr. Cunningham might have been hoping for.

The City Manager noted that it's a difficult issue as the city doesn't really have anything in the budget to address any clean up, adding that all they have is moral suasion to try and convince the owners to do it on their own as they don't have any teeth in the local bylaws to actually do it as the City and charge it back to the owner, unless there is a health or safety issue involved.

He further added that the City continues to encourage owners to clean their buildings and make them look good and hope that they will do that, but at the moment, there isn't really any way for the City to force them to conduct any clean up.

Mayor Brain, picked up on the theme and suggested that since things were happening here and the town is getting going again, that an approach the city could take is similar to what they did over the winter and to send letters to certain owners and ask them to wash the buildings that might need some attention

"I think it's correct, I think there are certain buildings that could use some pressure washing, the town has had no pride for quite a while after the mill closed there is no doubt about that.  But we need to revitalize the town, we need business owners that own those buildings to care about their buildings they are assets that they own, they chose those investments and I think we can work them a little bit and to start at that place."

To bring the topic to a conclusion, Mr. Cunningham suggested that council may want to consider putting in place a bylaw with some teeth.

You can review the full discussion from the City's Video archive starting at the thirty seven minute mark.

For more items related to last week's Council session see our Council Timeline here.

More items related to Council discussion topics can be found on our Council Archive page.

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